KAWARTHA LAKES-The Ontario government is introducing legislation today that they say would promote healthy work-life balance and will “enable competitiveness by banning unfair non-compete agreements that are used to restrict work opportunities, suppress salary increases and wage growth”.
Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, introduced the Working for Workers Act, 2021, which would include other restrictions as well such as developing “disconnect from work” policies and more.
“COVID-19 has changed the way we work, leaving too many people behind, struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet for their families,” said Minister McNaughton. “Our government is working for workers. To do so, we must act swiftly and decisively to put workers in the driver’s seat and begin rebalancing the scales. Today’s proposed legislation shows Ontario is ready to lead the way into the workplaces of tomorrow, and create the conditions that will make talented, innovative people want to work in our great province.”
If passed, this proposed legislation would make Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to make it easier for people to relax and spend quality time with their loved ones. By requiring employers with 25 employees or more to develop disconnecting from work policies, Ontario is prioritizing workers’ mental health and family time. These workplace policies could include, for example, expectations about response time for emails and encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they aren’t working.
The proposed legislation will also prohibit employers from using non-compete agreements. These types of contracts often restrict employees from taking new jobs with another business in the same field after they leave the company. The proposed changes would ban this restriction. Officials claim this would also give the province a competitive advantage in attracting global talent. Employers would still be able to protect their intellectual property through narrower clauses according to the government.
Measures proposed earlier this month will also be part of this legislation. This includes making it easier for internationally-trained individuals to practice in regulated professions, protecting vulnerable workers by establishing a licensing framework for recruiters and temporary help agencies, ensuring washroom access for delivery workers by requiring business owners to allow them to use the washrooms at the businesses they serve, and supporting businesses who continue to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19.
Many of the proposed changes were informed by the recommendations made by the experts of the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee, based on their consultations with workers, employers, and unions. These proposed changes complement the work that the government is already doing to improve and expand transportation, virtual care and broadband internet access, making it easier for more people to pursue remote work and make Ontario the “work from anywhere” province.