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Newsletter – MARCH 2023


Ontario’s proposed new layoff rules for at-home workers and other ESA changes to protect ‘precarious’ employees

The Ontario government is planning to revise employment laws to accommodate the growing number of remote workers. The proposed changes will entitle employees who work from home exclusively to the same enhanced notice provided to in-office and other employees in instances of mass termination. 
The eight-week minimum notice of termination or pay-in-lieu will protect remote employees and prevent companies from taking undue advantage. The government has emphasized that no billion-dollar company should treat remote employees as second-class.
The ESA’s notice rules for mass termination in Ontario apply when the employment of 50 or more employees is terminated at an employer’s establishment within a four-week period. In the case of a mass termination, an employee could be entitled to eight, 12, or 16 weeks’ notice of termination, depending on the number of employees terminated.

ESA changes to protect ‘precarious’ employees 

To safeguard precarious workers, the government is recommending regulatory changes to mandate that employers need to provide written information regarding pay, work location, working hours, and that the deadline for submitting these relevant details is prior to the worker’s first shift.
Presently, under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA), employers are only required to share the latest version of the employment standards poster, which outlines ESA workplace rights and responsibilities, with new employees.


Webinar: Legal Considerations and Practical Tips for the Remote Workplace

Provincial Minimum Wage Increases in 2023
  • New Brunswick will see the minimum wage go to $14.75 on April 1.
  • Yukon will see the minimum wage go to $16.77 on April 1.
  • Manitoba will see two minimum wage hikes, jumping to $14.15 an hour on April 1 and then to $15 on October 1.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador will see two minimum wage hikes, jumping to $14.50 an hour on April 1 and then to $15 on October 1.
  • Nova Scotia will also see two minimum wage hikes, jumping to $14.50 an hour on April 1 and then to $15 on October 1.
  • Prince Edward Island will see the minimum wage go to $15 on October 1.
  • Saskatchewan will see the minimum wage go to $14 on October 1.
  • Ontario’s minimum wage is to increase to $16.55 on October 1.
  • Currently, Alberta is among the provinces not increasing its minimum wage.


B.C. introduces new pay transparency legislation

New pay transparency legislation has been introduced in British Columbia with the aim of closing the gender wage gap. If passed, the legislation will make it mandatory for employers to specify salary ranges on job postings and will prohibit them from asking for pay history information from applicants. 

In addition to this, employers will be prohibited from penalizing an employee who discloses their pay to colleagues or potential job applicants. 
Employers will also be required to gradually publish reports on the gender pay gap. Reports will be required from all organizations with over 1,000 employees by November 2024, and those with over 300 employees by November 2025. All organizations with more than 50 employees will be required to produce these reports by November 2026. 

The legislation was developed following consultation with Indigenous partners, labour unions, businesses, and various other public and non-profit sector organizations.

B.C. calls end to mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy

The province of British Columbia has announced the end of its mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for government workers, which has been in place since November 2021. B.C. Public Service employees will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination from April 3, as the majority of employees have already been vaccinated. Contractors and non-employees will also not need to be vaccinated to enter BC Public Service workplaces.
However, workers in settings with provincial health officer orders or other vaccination requirements still need to be vaccinated.
According to the ministry, the change will allow workers who have been forced to leave their employment due to vaccination requirements to potentially return to their jobs.

Saskatchewan’s new workplace safety strategy 

Saskatchewan’s new workplace safety strategy aims to prioritize mental health and compliance enforcement to achieve Mission Zero, a goal of zero workplace injuries. The 2023-2028 Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy was announced by Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan on March 13, 2023, in Regina.
The five-year plan focuses on reducing serious injuries and fatalities in key industries such as healthcare, transportation, and construction, which have higher rates of injury. The strategy also aims to increase communication with employers, employees, and labour groups to ensure workers are aware of their rights. 



Bill 96: New law requires Québec employers to provide French versions of employment documents before June 1, 2023

In May 2022, the “Act Respecting French, the Official and Common Language of Québec,” known as Bill 96, was passed in the National Assembly and officially became law on June 1, 2022. This law strengthens the provincial French language charter by specifying additional documents that must be provided in French and clarifying existing requirements. Employers are now obligated to provide communications to their employees in French, including:

  • Individual employment contracts
  • Offers of employment, transfer letters, or promotion letters
  • Written communications to the staff or an employee, including those following the termination of the employment relationship
  • Employment application forms
  • Documents relating to conditions of employment (i.e. employment policies, handbook, bonus and commission plans, etc.) 
  • Training documents created for the employees

In addition, Bill 96 prohibits employers from requiring knowledge of English in the recruitment process, unless it is necessary for performing the job duties. Additionally, if an offer is published in English, the French and English versions must be published simultaneously. Furthermore, the law also specifies that employees have the right not to be discriminated against or harassed due to their language abilities or for exercising their rights under the charter.

Deadline is June 1, 2023.

Any individual employment contracts that were entered into before June 1, 2022 and are written in a language other than French must be translated upon request from the applicable employees. The translation must be completed in a timely manner, with a deadline of June 1, 2023. Employers are not required to translate fixed-term employment contracts that end before June 1, 2024. Furthermore, employers have until June 1, 2023, to make available a French version of application forms, documents related to working conditions, and training documents for employees if these documents were not previously available in French.

For businesses facing challenges in conforming to Bill 96, we suggest seeking assistance from Exact RH, our recommended HR partner in Québec. Schedule a consultation with their HR expert today to ensure that you are fully compliant with the new legislation.

Ontario ends paid sick days program
Ontario has announced the termination of its paid sick leave program for workers who contract COVID-19, effective March 31, 2023.
The province deems the program to have fulfilled its purpose. The “COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021” originally provided three paid days off for COVID-19 cases starting in April 2021, with employers required to offer up to $200 in pay for the three days missed. The government later extended the program until March 2023.During the pandemic peak, other provinces, such as Prince Edward Island and Yukon, also implemented paid sick leave for individuals who contracted COVID-19.



Does your employment contract include restrictive covenants such as non-competition and non-solicitation clauses?

  • Yes 60% 60%
  • No 37% 37%
  • Other 2% 2%


What is the maximum amount of severance pay required to be paid under the ESA of Ontario?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I don’t know
  • Others – Comment below



Pay Equity in Canada: Tips for Preventing Discrimination and Achieving Fair Compensation

Pay equity legislation in Canada varies depending on the jurisdiction. Some provinces and territories have legislation that requires pay equity, while others prohibit pay discrimination on the grounds of gender. In this quick read article, you can learn about the different pay equity laws across Canada and gain valuable tips for ensuring fair compensation and preventing discrimination in the workplace.


Janet Tufts

Executive Director,Big Brothers Big Sisters of London and Area
“For us as an airline it’s been a huge positive to us. Massive! Now we have an employee handbook, we have onboarding checklist routines, almost a culture in place for those kinds of things we’re looking at how we are for certain people.
We’re making sure that our employees are addressed on all levels of their employment and have something at their fingertips that they can refer to if they need to know about anything whether it be benefits or sick days or whatever that relates back to the employees.”