Mandate letter progress: Labour
The Minister’s response letter to Premier Wynne, outlining the results achieved on key mandate priorities in 2014-15.
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January 11, 2016
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
You asked that I, as Minister of Labour, advance safe, fair and respectful workplace practices that are essential to the social and economic well-being of the people of Ontario. I am very pleased to report that we have made significant progress towards the specific priorities you assigned to the Ministry of Labour.
Reflecting the Changing Workplace
- The Changing Workplaces Review was launched in May 2015. Over the summer, two special advisors held 12 public consultation sessions across the province. The review received 309 written submissions, and 200 individuals and groups provided in-person input at a consultation session.
- A number of research projects, led by leading academics, are also underway. Over the coming months, the special advisors will review this information as they develop an interim report early in 2016. I expect to receive the review’s recommendations in late summer of 2016.
Developing a Wage Gap Strategy
- In April, I appointed a steering committee to lead the development of the Gender Wage Gap strategy. The steering committee’s public consultations are underway and
in-person consultation sessions will be held throughout the winter. I expect to receive the steering committee’s consultation summary and recommendations in the spring of 2016.
Protecting Vulnerable Workers
- The Ministry of Labour has recently strengthened protections for foreign workers through the amendments in Bill 18, which have expanded protections under the Employment Protections for Foreign Nationals Act to all foreign workers in Ontario, not just foreign live-in caregivers.
- We will continue to work with our provincial colleagues — and the federal government — to ensure that temporary foreign workers are protected.
Promoting Occupational Health and Safety
- The Chief Prevention Officer established an advisory group to help develop and implement a Construction Health and Safety Action Plan. This group, made up of a broad range of construction industry experts, is providing advice on how the ministry can strengthen workplace accident prevention in the sector.
- The ministry has recently held seven targeted stakeholder meetings to obtain input from the sector. Based on the feedback received from stakeholders and the public and the continued advice of the advisory group, the ministry is developing an action plan, which I expect to receive early in 2016.
- The Ministry of Labour also continues to implement the Expert Advisory Panel’s recommendations. Most recently, the ministry established Working at Heights training requirements for those who work on construction projects.
- In addition, the Ministry of Labour has recently amended other regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to improve protections for construction workers by enhancing requirements for the safe operation of rotary foundation drill rigs, strengthening fall protection measures, enhancing provisions relating to exposure to hazardous substances and extending noise protection requirements.
Working with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
- The Budget Measures Act, 2015, received Royal Assent on December 10, 2015. It amended the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) to provide full indexation for all injured workers who receive partial disability benefits. Starting January 1, 2018, all workers’ compensation benefits will be fully indexed (to the Consumer Price Index) on the benefit amount, with no upper limit.
- The Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015, also received Royal Assent on December 10, 2015. It amended the WSIA to provide enhancements to survivor benefits, prohibitions on workplace injury claims suppression, increased penalties and the appointment of a Fair Practices Commissioner.
Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace
- On March 5, 2015, I brought together workers and experts from a wide range of sectors at a summit on work-related traumatic mental stress in Toronto. As well, I have been meeting regularly with a wide range of knowledgeable individuals and organizations, and recently convened a Workplace Mental Health Leaders’ Roundtable, where I met with stakeholders and other experts in the field to hear about the key issues facing these employers. A key outcome from this roundtable was developing actionable objectives for next steps on strategies for employers, stakeholder organizations, experts in the field and the government.
Collaborating on Collective Bargaining
- I have been meeting with employers and unions, and have heard the concerns from some municipalities about the sustainability of funding for emergency services. I am listening to all suggestions put forward. I know that consensus is needed, and that is why I will continue to engage with municipalities and first responders. The goal is to build a sustainable model that works for municipalities, first responders and taxpayers. I am committed to working to develop a system that is fair and balanced. I appreciate the thoughtful, solution-oriented discussions I have had to date, and plan to share a document for consultation based on these discussions.
Premier, I remain committed to building on these achievements in meeting our mandate priorities.
Minister of Labour
|Mandate Letter Commitment||Progress to Date|
|Engaging openly with Ontarians to consider actions that will support labour and employment law reforms. Your goal is to continue to protect workers while supporting business in today’s evolving economy.|
|Leading a review of Ontario’s system of employment and labour standards. You will work with other ministers to consider reforms that reflect the realities of the modern economy, such as the rise of non-standard employment and the reduction in the prevalence of employer benefits and training.|
|Leading the development of a wage gap strategy. Women make up an integral part of our economy and society, but on average still do not earn as much as men. You will work with the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues and other ministers to develop a wage gap strategy that will close the gap between men and women in the context of the 21st century economy.|
|Working with the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade to better protect migrant workers in Ontario. Your goal is to continue to strengthen protection for the most vulnerable workers in our province, while creating a level playing field for companies that follow the rules.|
|Protecting workers’ health and safety and leading workplace accident prevention efforts. I ask that you work with the Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) to enhance the ministry’s prevention capacity by augmenting our prevention efforts. As a first step, I ask that you work with the construction sector, through the Chief Prevention Officer, to develop an action plan to strengthen workplace accident prevention in the construction sector.|
|Accelerating the transformation of Ontario’s occupational health and safety system, as recommended by the Expert Advisory Panel.|
|Continuing to ensure the long-term sustainability of our workers’ compensation system while balancing the interests of injured workers and employers. I ask that you consider such issues as removing the 72-month lock-in provision, enhancing survivor benefits, implementing a long-term strategy to deal with indexation for partially disabled workers — and developing further reforms.|
|Engaging with companies that have introduced strong workplace mental health programs for their employees to draw upon their experience. Your goal is to work with employers to expand employer-provided services available to Ontario workers.|
|Continuing to work with ministers — and the President of the Treasury Board, employers and unions — to uphold and respect the collective bargaining process. Your goal is to maintain a respectful labour relations climate for both employers and unions.|
|Continuing to assess options to reform the interest arbitration process. I ask that, going forward, you continue to work to balance the interests of both employers and unions.|