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Workers’ rights legislation passes in Ontario

Access to washrooms, ban on non-compete clauses among new measures
Under newly passed provincial legislation, truckers and delivery drivers must have access to washroom facilities while on the job.

The province has passed new legislation that introduces a slew of new measures to protect workers’ rights.

Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act, 2021, first announced in late October, passed third reading in the Ontario Legislature on Nov. 30.

In a statement, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said the new legislation aims to help workers earn more while staying safe on the job.

“Through the passage of this legislation, Ontario is ensuring our labour laws keep pace with the acceleration of new technology, automation, and remote work,” he said in the statement.

“We are protecting workers’ rights, while positioning Ontario as the top destination for global talent and investment.”

Highlights of the new legislation include:

  • requiring most businesses to outline their employees’ right to disconnect;
  • banning the use of non-compete clauses;
  • removing unfair work experience requirements for foreign-trained immigrants trying to work in their professions;
  • introducing a mandatory licensing framework for temporary help agencies and recruiters, to help prevent labour trafficking; and
  • requiring business owners to allow delivery workers, including truckers, to use a company’s washroom if they are delivering or picking up items.

This is also the same legislation that would return surplus funds from Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coffers to businesses that have paid into the fund.

WSIB’s reserve fund is currently valued at more than $6 billion, and under the legislation, half of that could be returned to employers.

That move has drawn the ire of workers’ rights organizations like the Occupational Disease Reform Alliance.

The recently formed group, which advocates for the recognition of occupational diseases as part of the workers’ compensation claims process, argues that any surplus funds from the WSIB should go toward settling outstanding workers’ compensation claims, some of which have taken years or decades to be addressed.