On May 6, the government of Ontario announced the Working for Workers Five Act, 2024. If passed, the legislation will introduce several changes including updated sick note requirements, new obligations for publically advertised job postings and an updated definition of harassment to reflect increasingly digital work practices. A summary of the proposed changes are listed below, for the full details, see the Ontario government’s announcement.

Employment standards

  • Requiring employers to disclose in publicly advertised job postings whether a position is vacant and respond to applicants they have interviewed for those jobs.
  • Doubling the maximum fine for individuals convicted of violating the ESA from $50,000 to $100,000.
  • Making regulatory changes to increase the penalty for repeat offenders who have contravened the same provision of the ESA three or more times from $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Effective October 1, 2024, Ontario is increasing the minimum wage from $16.55 per hour to $17.20.

Women in the workplace

  • 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.
  • Requiring menstrual products on construction projects with 20 or more regularly employed workers and where the project is expected to last at least three months.
  • Requiring washrooms provided to workers to be clean and sanitary and ensure accountability by maintaining records of cleaning as prescribed by regulations.

Occupational health and safety

  • Allowing for electronic copies of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to meet posting requirements and allowing joint health and safety committee meetings to be held virtually.
  • Prohibiting employers from requiring a sick note from a medical professional for a worker’s job-protected sick leave under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). Employers can still request another form of evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances, such as an attestation.
  • Improving presumptive coverage to firefighters, fire investigators and volunteers for primary-site skin cancer by lowering the required duration of service 15 years to 10 years.
  • Expanding presumptive coverage for occupational cancers, heart injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to wildland firefighters and fire investigators.
  • Working to prevent future asbestos-related illnesses by incorporating asbestos-related data into the ministry’s forthcoming occupational exposure registry.

Internationally trained workers

  • Streamlining registration for internationally trained workers and cutting red tape by requiring regulated professions to have a plan for enabling multiple registration processes to take place concurrently wherever possible.
  • Making the foreign credential system outcomes-oriented by requiring regulated professions to have a policy to accept alternatives where standard registration-related documents cannot be obtained for reasons beyond an applicant’s control, such as war or natural disasters.
  • Expanding occupations eligible for the In-Demand Skills stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) and allowing the delegation of internal reviewer decision-making authority to speed up processes within the OINP.

The skilled trades

  • Creating a new stream, called Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training (FAST), that will allow students in Grades 11 and 12 to participate in more apprenticeship learning through additional co-operative education credits while completing high school.
  • Enabling alternative pathways for people interested in the skilled trades as a second career if they meet alternative criteria, such as prior professional experience, but cannot meet certain academic entry requirements to register as an apprentice.

Government of Ontario – Backgrounder: Working For Workers Five Act, 2024