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Amendments planned to exempt municipalities from on-call provisions

by Patrick Raftis

MINTO - The provincial government is introducing amendments that will provide an exemption to portions of new workplace legislation in response to concerns from municipalities.

Municipal councillors across Wellington County have expressed concerns about portions of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, which will implement significant reforms to both the Employment Standards Act of 2000 and the Labour Relations Act of 1995.  

Local politicians have been particularly concerned about the potential impact of requirements regarding notice for on-call workers on municipal budgets and scheduling for snowplow operators and volunteer firefighters.

At the June 29 meeting of Wellington County council, the county’s acting director of human resources Susan Farrelly advised council the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) was in the process of preparing a response to the proposed legislation.

At the Nov. 21 Minto council meeting, CAO Bill White noted the correspondence contained two letters from municipalities seeking support for their bids to have the government reconsider the legislation in respect to municipalities.

“It’s my understanding … the municipal exemption did come through for much of that bill,” said White. “These were concerns about minimum on-call rates and impact on volunteer firefighters and so forth. We believe we have those resolved through AMO and an exemption and the minister of municipal affairs I believe has supported that exemption as well.”

White noted it could be “a little bit redundant” to support the  municipal resolutions at this point.

A letter from Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Mauro and Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn was also in the agenda package at the meeting.

“We’re proposing that Bill 148 be amended at Standing Committee to add exemptions to the on­-call pay and the 96 hours’ notice scheduling rules in Bill 148,” the letter states.

“Specifically, an employer would not be required to provide on-call pay to an employee who was on call, and not required to work, if the reason for the on-call shift was to ensure the continued delivery of essential public services, such as fire, utility and snow removal services.

“Similarly, an employee’s right to refuse an employer’s request to work or be on call would not apply if the reason for the request is to ensure the continued delivery of essential public services.”

The letter continues, “Our government values and respects the partnership we have with municipalities, and appreciate hearing your concerns and feedback on this legislation.

“The submission from AMO, and input from municipal leaders, has helped us find common ground toward addressing your concerns.”

Council took no action on the resolutions.

Minimum wage rising

Bill 148, which contains provisions raising the minimum wage to $14 effective Jan. 1, 2018 and $15 in 2019, passed third reading in the Legislature on Nov. 22.

The bill also requires employers provide at least two paid, job-protected sick days for all workers, increases holiday entitlement to a minimum of three weeks after five years with a company, and mandates equal pay for temporary and part-time workers doing the same job as full-time employees.


December 1, 2017


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