Businesses, labour watch Ontario for response to workplace review

Businesses and labour leaders in Waterloo Region are watching the Ontario government, waiting to see how it will respond to a two-year review of the province's labour and employment laws.

Review of labour laws ordered by Premier Wynne ordered in 2015, results expected this spring

The review of Ontario labour laws was ordered by Premier Wynne in 2015 and the final report is expected to be delivered any day. (Toronto Airport Workers Council)

Businesses and labour leaders in Waterloo Region are watching the Ontario government, waiting to see how it will respond to a two-year review of the province's labour and employment laws.

The review was ordered by Premier Kathleen Wynne in 2015 and the final report is expected to be delivered this spring.

Some changes under consideration are paid mandatory sick days and compensating casual employees for last minute shift changes.

Art Sinclair, vice-president of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, said that whatever changes come out of the review, he wants to see the government recognize the difference between small and large employers.

Balance the playing field

"The larger employers are not as visible and do not have as large a presence in the national economy as they did in previous years," he said.

"I think certainly the governments have to recognize that and that the playing field is balanced for the smaller employers who are sometimes strained in terms of their resources and in terms of what they can offer to their employees." 

The shift from large to small employers isn't the only change in the Ontario business landscape. Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said there's also been a move towards more part time, temporary and casual workers.

Behind the times

"Our labour laws have not kept pace with the changes that have been going on in Ontario. They're about 25 to 30 years behind the times," he said.

"So it's critical, when the government does reflect on the recommendations that they receive from the two expert panels, that they actually look at the reality. and, of course, try to bring forth changes going to help workers within those sectors."

Yussuff said some good recommendations were made in an interim report, which was released by the special advisers who are reviewing the labour laws for the government.

Hassan Yussuff said giving part time workers sick leave and the ability to join unions would be a good start for improving their quality of life on the job. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

In particular, he said giving part time workers sick leave, two weeks notice for shift changes and the ability to join a union would be a good start for improving their quality of life on the job.

"I hope there is a balanced approach to figure out how they will deal with the employment standard gaps that exist in the current legislation," he said.

The Changing Workplaces Review has yet to release its final report.