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What the Working for Workers Act Five of Ontario Means for Employers

May 31, 2024 | HR Compliance, Ontario, Working for Workers Act

The Ontario government’s Working for Workers Five Act proposes a wide range of changes impacting employers. Here’s a breakdown of key points you need to be aware of:

Skilled Trades:

  • New Apprenticeship Program: The act proposes a “Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training” (FAST) program allowing high school students to gain hands-on experience through cooperative education credits.
  • Online Job Matching Portal: A new online platform will connect apprentices, journeypersons, and employers, streamlining the hiring process.
  • Alternative Entry Paths: The act explores allowing individuals with relevant experience to enter skilled trades even if they lack traditional academic qualifications. 

Hiring and Immigration:

  • Faster Registration for Internationally Trained Workers: The act aims to streamline registration for foreign workers by requiring regulated professions to explore concurrent processing of applications.
  • Outcomes-Based Credential Recognition: Professions will be required to have policies accepting alternative forms of documentation if standard registration documents are unavailable.
  • OINP Expansion: The act proposes expanding occupations eligible for the In-Demand Skills stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). 

Workplace Safety and Health:

  • Presumptive Coverage for Cancer and PTSD: Firefighters, investigators, and volunteers may benefit from expanded presumptive coverage for occupational cancers, heart injuries, and PTSD.
  • Virtual Meetings and Electronic Resources: The act allows electronic copies of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) for posting requirements and permits virtual joint health and safety committee meetings.
  • Workplace Harassment: Modernizing the definition of harassment to include protection against virtual harassment, including virtual sexual harassment, to respond to increasingly digital work practices and reflect the future of work. 

Changes for Women at Work:

  • Mandatory Menstrual Products: Construction sites with at least 20 employees and a project duration exceeding three months will be required to provide menstrual products.
  • Clean and Sanitary Washrooms: The act mandates clean and sanitary washrooms on construction sites, with records of cleaning maintained. 

Transparency and Fairness:

  • Reduced Sick Note Burden: Employers won’t be able to demand a doctor’s note for ESA-protected sick leave. However, they can request alternative reasonable evidence, such as a self-declaration.
  • Job Posting Disclosure: Employers must disclose if a job posting is for a genuine vacancy and respond to applicants they interview.
  • Increased Fines for ESA Violations: The maximum fine for individuals violating the ESA will double to $100,000, with harsher penalties for repeat offenders. 

Remember, the act is still under review. Stay tuned for further updates as the legislation progresses.

Click here to read the news release from the Ontario government.