Working For Workers Four Act Receives Royal Assent: New Increase to Minimum Wage Announced

On March 21, 2024, the Working for Workers Four Act, 2024, received royal assent in provincial parliament. The legislation, which is the fourth in a series of annual “Working for Workers” acts, made changes related to job postings, citizenship requirements in employment, and wage protections for certain workers.

Update on Previously Announced Job Posting Requirements

The Ontario government announced in November 2023 that they would add requirements for job postings to disclose salary ranges and whether AI would be used in the hiring process. These proposals have now become law as part of the Working for Workers Four Act. In November 2023, the government also announced that they would hold consultations to determine whether they would restrict the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) in the settlement of workplace sexual harassment, misconduct or violence. The press release indicates that the government has yet to start these consultations, but that they will start soon.

We discussed these changes at the time they were announced. For more on this, see our previous blog post.

Protections for Workers without Citizenship

Many of the amendments from the act created greater protections for workers without Canadian citizenship or work experience. It is now prohibited to make Canadian work experience a qualification in a job posting, new regulations will start a review of how regulated professions assess international qualifications, and there will be new pathways for international students to qualify for the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP).

As we know, it is against Ontario’s Human Rights Code to discriminate on the basis of citizenship and place of origin in hiring. These changes will help ensure employers cannot use “Canadian experience” as a filter to discriminate against newly arrived and foreign workers, and ensure equal opportunities for qualified individuals.

New Vacation Pay Requirement, Changes to WSIB Benefits

Finally, minor changes were made to language on vacation pay, specifying that if vacation pay is paid in any way other than a lump sum prior to vacation, a written agreement is required. Additionally, changes to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act will allow for increases to WSIB benefits above the annual rate of inflation.

The alternatives for vacation pay that were previously available still exist. All that has changed is that the agreement between the employer and the employee must now be in writing. The changes to the WSIB benefits will allow to the Board to increase their benefits beyond the rate of inflation to better match the needs of injured workers.

In Related News, Minimum Wage will Increase to $17.20 as of October 1, 2024

The Working for Workers Four Act received royal assent one week before the government announced that it was increasing the minimum wage in the province. As of October 2022, the government of Ontario has tied the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index. This means that as of October 1, 2024, the minimum wage will be increased by 3.9% to a rate of $17.20 per hour. This will put Ontario’s minimum wage at the second highest provincial rate in Canada, after British Columbia’s rate of $17.40 per hour.

This change will have implications for employers who have tied wages to the minimum wage, such as for overnight asleep work) and created new unfunded costs unless those workers have already received an increase to their wage rates due to $3.00 Permanent Compensation Enhancement provided by the government in April 2022.  We note that the manner in which this is handled may be the subject of grievances and challenges, and therefore it is important to be mindful of how this is addressed in collective agreements, policies and employment contracts.

PooranLaw will continue to update you with any developments on this story and the implications they may have on your workplace operations as they emerge. If you require legal assistance, we encourage you to reach out to your regular PooranLaw lawyer, or any member of our team.

Note: This article provides general information only and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or opinion. PooranLaw Professional Corporation holds the copyright to this article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of PooranLaw Professional Corporation.