While most Ontario employers regard new government rules, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, as a positive move for both businesses and the job market in 2019 — and despite promises to reduce paperwork — the magnitude of changes from Queen’s Park may overwhelm some employers, certainly in terms of payroll management in the short term.
Still, employers benefit the most from reforms designed by the Ontario government, to make the province more competitive. Ontario did see a net increase of 17,600 jobs in a report January 4, 2019.
While this is “mostly” good news for employers — and if job growth continues, for employees — the ongoing changes have made payroll management difficult for small -to-medium-sized businesses. Despite the promise of “less red tape” embodied in the new rules, the changes are never-the-less implementation challenges for many employers. [If you need help with some of these changes, contact our Payroll Management Team experts, form below.]
As of January 1, a number of changes take effect that might help keep the momentum on jobs:
Minimum Wage remains at 2018 levels: $14
Minimum wage stays at $14 as of January 1, 2019. Analysts with the Financial Accountability Office estimated the previously-planned increase to $15 would have eliminated 50,000 jobs from the Ontario labour market. In 2020, annual minimum wage increases — tied to inflation — resume.
Laurie Scott, Minister of Labour explained, “Our government is working harder, smarter and more efficiently to make life better for the people of Ontario. Our reforms put money back into the economy, so job creators can invest in new equipment and create good jobs.”
WSIB premiums down almost 30%
Another boost to the labour market that benefits employers is a reduction in Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums.
The cut of nearly 30% for Ontario businesses is projected to save Ontario employers a total of $1.45 billion in premiums to WSIB.
Workplace schedules and other initiatives
The Ontario government also delayed the start date of the Pay Transparency Act, 2018, and will now consult extensively with stakeholders.
New rules also preserve workplace schedule flexibility, allowing both the employers and workers to decide schedules without specific restrictions.
The new rules also modernize the apprenticeship system in Ontario, reducing paperwork and other requirements for skilled trades.
Previous legislated reforms
The Minister of Labour also directed various legislative reforms, designed to reduced red tape or increase competitiveness for Ontario:
- Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018: designed to reduce paperwork for businesses
- Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018: tries to “level the playing field for all construction workers building public infrastructure.”
- Labour Relations Amendment Act (Protecting Ontario’s Power Supply), 2018: mandating hydro service without interruptions
- The above mentioned Pay Transparency Act, 2018 delay directly impacted firefighter labour relations
“In the new year we will continue our efforts to make it easier to start or grow a business and invest in Ontario, building an economy that benefits all in this province,” Scott said. “I am proud to lead a Ministry responsible for dynamic labour markets and safe workplaces.”