Ontario Government Tables Bill 190, the Working for Workers Five Act, 2024

On May 6, 2024, the Ontario government introduced the Working for Workers Five Act, 2024 (“Bill 190”). If passed, Bill 190 would amend several employment-related statutes, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.  

Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”)

Publicly Advertised Job Postings

If passed, Bill 190 would require employers to disclose whether or not a publicly advertised job posting is for an existing vacancy.  Exceptions may apply as prescribed.

Employers would also be required to provide applicants who are interviewed for a publicly advertised job posting with prescribed information within the prescribed time period.  Employers would have to retain copies of all prescribed information given to such applicants for three years after the information was provided.  Bill 190 also provides that additional regulations may be made to define what constitutes an “interview” and to prescribe how information is provided to applicants.

These amendments build on the publicly advertised job posting requirements introduced by Bill 149, the Working for Workers Four Act, 2023.  As discussed in a previous Focus Alert, those amendments included the requirement for an employer to disclose the expected compensation or compensation range for a position, and, if applicable, the use of AI used to screen, assess, or select applicants for the position.  They also included a prohibition against including any requirement related to Canadian experience in a publicly advertised job posting or associated application form.

Proof of Entitlement to ESA Sick Leave

Under the ESA, employees who have been employed by an employer for at least two consecutive weeks are entitled to three days of unpaid job-protected sick leave in each calendar year.  While employers would still be permitted to require employees to provide evidence reasonable in the circumstances that the employee is entitled to the leave, Bill 190 would prohibit employers from requiring employees to provide a certificate from a qualified health practitioner as such evidence. The government’s Backgrounder on Bill 190 noted that another form of evidence that is reasonable in the circumstance may include an attestation, and that future Ministry guidance would be developed on the issue.

Increased Fines for Violating the ESA

The maximum fine for violating the ESA would increase from $50,000 to $100,000. 

Additionally, on May 6, 2024, the Ontario government filed O. Reg. 189/24, which amends O. Reg. 289/01: Penalties and Reciprocal Enforcement under the ESA.  The amendment increases the penalty for the third or subsequent contravention of the same provision of the ESA in a three-year period from $1,000 to $5,000.  The increased amount also applies to situations where the notice of contravention affects more than one employee and the fine is required to be multiplied by the number of employees affected.

Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”)

Bill 190 proposes several amendments to the OHSA, as follows:

  • The OHSA would apply to “telework performed in or about a private residence.” The definition of “industrial establishment” would be amended to exclude offices located in a private residence.
  • Definitions of “workplace harassment” and “workplace sexual harassment” would be expanded to include harassment which occurs “virtually through the use of information and communications technology.”
  • Constructors and employers would be required to ensure that washroom facilities are kept clean and sanitary. They would also be required to maintain cleaning records as prescribed by regulation.  It should be noted that on May 6, 2024, the government filed O. Reg. 190/24: Construction Projects, which requires menstrual products to be provided by a constructor where twenty or more workers are regularly employed at a project and the project is expected to last at least three months.  O. Reg. 190/24 comes into force on January 1, 2025.
  • Workplace posting requirements under the OHSA would be expanded to allow for posting certain information in a readily accessible electronic format. Information would be considered to be posted in a “readily accessible electronic format” if the employer provides workers with direction on where and how to access the information and the posted electronic format can be readily accessed by workers in the workplace.
  • Joint Health and Safety Committee meetings would be permitted to be held virtually, as they would no longer be required to be held “at the workplace.”

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act1997 (WSIA”)

If passed, Bill 190 would amend the WSIA to extend presumptive coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder to include two new categories of workers – wildland firefighters and wildland fire investigators. 

Bill 190 would also extend presumptive coverage to certain firefighters and fire investigators for primary-site skin cancer where the worker had a total of at least ten years of service as such a firefighter or fire investigator before being diagnosed.

Additional Amendments

If passed, Bill 190 would have the following impacts on the legislation set out below: 

  • Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006
    • Amendments would require that regulated professions make information publicly available on what documentation of qualifications must accompany an application and what reasonable alternatives to the documentation will be acceptable if the required documentation cannot be obtained for reasons beyond the applicant’s control.  They must also have a policy that addresses the acceptance of alternative documentation. 
    • Regulated professions would be required to have a plan addressing how they will enable multiple registration processes to take place concurrently.
  • Ontario Immigration Act, 2015 
    • The legislation would be amended to provide that an individual appointed to conduct an internal review under the legislation may delegate their appointed powers or duties. 
  • Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act, 2021
    • The legislation would be amended to allow for regulations to prescribe alternative criteria that may be satisfied instead of the academic standards necessary for the registration of a training agreement required as part of an apprenticeship program. 

In Our View

Bill 190 is currently at Second Reading. We will continue to monitor the progress of the Bill and will report on important developments when they occur. 

For more information about the changes proposed in Bill 190, please contact Fabienne Lajoie at 613-301-9612 or Paul Lalonde at 613-795-1752

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