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Changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and Other Work-Related Statutes Now in Force

November 2, 2023 | Sherrard Kuzz LLP

On October 26, 2023, Bill 79, the Working for Workers Act, 2023 received Royal Assent. As discussed in our March 21, 2023 briefing note, Bill 79 amends various work-related statutes including, the Employment Standards Act, 2000, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009, Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, and the Ontario Works Act, 1997.  

This briefing note summarizes key amendments now in force. Regulations will be passed in due course.

For more information or to discuss how the amendments may impact your business, contact your Sherrard Kuzz LLP lawyer, or our firm at


Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”)

Expanded Reservist Leave

Previously, an employee with at least three consecutive months of employment was entitled to an unpaid leave under the ESA if they were a reservist and deployed to a Canadian Forces operation outside of Canada, deployed inside of Canada to provide emergency assistance, or are participating in Canadian Forces military skills training.

Effective October 26, 2023, reservist leave is extended to an employee in treatment, recovery or rehabilitation for a physical or mental health illness, injury or medical emergency that results from participation in such deployment or training.  An employee is also entitled to access unpaid reservist leave after two consecutive months of employment (reduced from three).

Mass Termination Obligations

If an employee terminates 50 or more employees at the employer’s “establishment” in a four-week period, it must provide notice, or pay in lieu, in accordance with the O.Reg 288/01 (Termination and Severance of Employment).  This regulation provides enhanced “mass termination” notice obligations not based on an individual employee’s length of service, but rather the number of employees terminated within the four-week period.  If an employer terminates 50-199 employees in an establishment in a four-week period, eligible employees are entitled to eight weeks’ notice or pay in lieu. This increases to twelve weeks if the termination impacts 200-499 employees and sixteen weeks if 500 or more employees are terminated.

If the mass termination obligations are engaged, an employer must provide notice to the Director of Employment Standards in the prescribed Form 1 and post the Form 1 in the employer’s establishment on the first day of the notice period.  Any statutory working notice is not effective until the Form 1 is received by the Director of Employment Standards. Bill 79 amends an employer’s obligations with respect to the Form 1 such that now an employer must also provide the Form 1 to each affected employee on the first day of the notice period.

The ESA has historically defined an employer’s “establishment” as a location at which the employer carries on business.  However, if the employer has multiple locations, all locations within the same municipality are considered one establishment.  Similarly, if employees at a location have seniority rights under an employment contract or collective agreement that permit them to displace other employees at another location, those locations are together considered one establishment.

Effective October 26, 2023, the definition of “location at which the employer carries on business” is expanded to include a private residence of the employer’s employee if the employee performs work in the private residence and the employee does not perform work at any other location where the employer carries on business.” This amendment ensures that an employee who works exclusively from home is not denied mass termination entitlements simply because they do not work at an employer’s physical work location. This will require an employer to be mindful of where in Ontario their remote employees work, when evaluating if the mass termination provisions of the ESA are triggered by a large workforce reduction.

Information for New Employees

Effective October 26, 2023, the government may enact regulations to require that an employer provide certain information to an employee or prospective employee.  The Government of Ontario has indicated it will introduce regulatory changes to require that an employer provide new employees with information about their pay, work location and hours of work.  To date, the proposed regulations have not been introduced.

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Effective October 26, 2023, the maximum fine for a corporation convicted under the Occupational Health and Safety Act increases from $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 per charge.  This maximum fine applies to offences alleged to have occurred on or October 26, 2023.

Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 (“EPFNA”)

The EPFNA prohibits an employer, recruiter, or person operating on their behalf, from taking or retaining property a foreign national is entitled to possess, including a passport or work permit.

Effective October 26, 2023, an individual convicted of taking or retaining a passport or work permit in contravention of the EPFNA may be fined up to $500,000, imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both. A corporation may be fined up to $1,000,000.

Fair Access to Regulated Professionals and Compulsory Trades Act, 2006 (“FARPCTA”)

Effective October 26, 2023 a regulated profession under FARPCTA is required to work with its responsible Minister (or such other Minister as may be identified) to ensure public access to an adequate number of qualified, skilled and competent regulated professionals.  To reduce barriers for internationally trained professionals, a regulated profession may accept Canadian experience as a qualification for registration only if it also accepts alternatives to Canadian experience that meet prescribed criteria.

For more information or to discuss how the amendments may impact your business, contact your Sherrard Kuzz LLP lawyer, or our firm at

The information contained in this briefing note is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice, nor does accessing this information create a lawyer-client relationship. This briefing note is current as of November 2, 2023 and applies only to Ontario, Canada, or such other laws of Canada as expressly indicated.  Information about the law is checked for legal accuracy as at the date the briefing note is prepared, but may become outdated as laws or policies change.  For clarification or for legal or other professional assistance please contact Sherrard Kuzz LLP.


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