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OCC Regulatory Update

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce's (OCC) quarterly Regulatory Update summarizes what employers need to know about the latest changes to the regulatory environment for businesses.

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Easing the regulatory burden for Ontario businesses is one of the OCC's top priorities. We are committed to continuing to advocate for a business climate that fosters investment and growth.

Contents:


EI Premium Rates Dropping 15% for Some Businesses

In effect January 1, 2015

The Government of Canada has announced a new Small Business Job Credit that will lower Employment Insurance (EI) premium rates for small businesses as of January 1, 2015. Businesses that pay up to $15,000 in EI premiums will benefit from the break, which will reduce the EI premium from $1.88 per $100 of payroll to $1.60. That is a drop of 15 percent in EI costs for eligible businesses.

The Job Credit will remain in effect through 2016.


Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) 2015 Premium Rates Frozen

In effect

WSIB premium rates will be frozen for a second consecutive year. Only one rate group, Local Government Services, will see an increase in premium rates as a result of expanded coverage for firefighters.

The WSIB has also announced that their compensation system is more than 64 percent funded, and will be 80 percent funded by 2022 and 100 percent by 2027. The funding ratio has improved significantly, up from 56.9 in 2012.


Ministry of Finance Calling for Feedback on Proposed Design of Ontario Retirement Pension Plan

Due February 13

The Government of Ontario is moving ahead with its proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), to be implemented in 2017. The ORPP, which aims to supplement the Canada Pension Plan, will require employers and employees to make pension contributions of 1.9 percent on earnings up to a maximum annual earnings threshold of $90,000.

The government is currently seeking feedback on the proposed design of the ORPP. You can find the consultation document, containing design details of the plan and discussion questions, here. To learn more about the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber Network's position on the ORPP click here

You can email your feedback to the Ministry directly at ORPP@ontario.ca, or mail your feedback to:

Ontario Retirement Pension Plan: Key Design Questions
Budget Secretariat
Ministry of Finance
95 Grosvenor Street
3rd Floor, Frost Building North
Toronto, ON M7A 1Z1


Review of Ontario College of Trades Announced, Trade Classification Process Paused

Ongoing

In November, the Government of Ontario announced the appointment of Tony Dean, former Secretary of Cabinet and Head of Ontario Public Service, to lead an independent review of the Ontario College of Trades mandate and other key areas of Ontario’s skilled trades system.

Included under the review will be issues related to the scope of practice performed by a tradesperson, as well as the process for the classification of compulsory versus voluntary trades. Findings will be presented to both the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the College of Trades in October 2015.

The Government of Ontario also announced that all trade classification reviews will be paused during the duration of Mr. Dean’s review.

Mr. Dean will be releasing his consultative plan in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more information on how your organization can participate.


Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) Training Programs Now Accepting Applications

Ongoing

In 2014, the governments of Canada and Ontario rolled out the Canada-Ontario Job Grant, a new employer-driven skills training program.

The Job Grant will provide businesses with up to $15,000 per person to cover training costs for workers or unemployed Ontarians in needs of skills upgrading. In order to participate in the program, employers will be required to contribute on average, one-third or up to $5,000 of the total costs of training. Small businesses will benefit from flexible arrangements, such as the potential to count wages as part of their employer contribution.

Eligible training under the Job Grant can be provided in a classroom, on-site at a workplace, or online, as long as it is provided by an eligible third-party trainer, such as a community college, career college, trade union centre, and/or private trainer.


Ministry of Labour Conducting Employment Standards Blitz

Beginning January 2015

Beginning in January 2015, the Ontario Ministry of Labour will be inspecting temporary help agencies during a two-month employment standards blitz. The Ministry will focus on contraventions of the Employment Standards Act, with a particular focus on public holiday pay at temporary agencies across the province. The goal of the campaign is to help protect vulnerable workers and decrease exploitation.


New Accessibility Requirements Now in Effect

Requirements as of January 1, 2015

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) applies to all organizations and businesses in Ontario that have one or more employee(s) and provide goods or services to the public or to other businesses and organizations. The standards under the AODA are the rules that businesses and organizations must follow to identify, prevent and remove barriers for people with disabilities. Several of Ontario’s accessibility laws are already in effect and others will be phased in between now and 2021. Some of the most recent requirements now in effect are as follows:

By January 1, 2015, private and non-profit organizations with 1-49 employees were required to:

  • Establish policies to help achieve their accessibility goals, and tell employees and customers about them.
  • Consider accessibility when purchasing or designing self-service kiosks.

By January 1, 2015, private and non-profit organizations with 50+ employees were required to:

  • Train their staff on Ontario’s accessibility laws.
  • Make their feedback processes, like surveys or comment cards, accessible when asked.

Organizations must also be meeting other accessibility requirements that have been phased in since January 1, 2012. Private and non-profit businesses with 20 or more employees were required to file an accessibility compliance report with the Government of Ontario by December 31, 2014.

For a complete list of current and upcoming requirements that apply to you, visit ontario.ca/accessibilitycompliance.


New ‘Express Entry’ Immigration System Now Available for Employer Use

January 1, 2015

The federal immigration system has undergone a dramatic change. The January 1, 2015 launch of Express Entry (EE), the federal government's new electronic application management system for recruiting highly skilled immigrants, puts employers front and centre in immigrant selection.

Employers can make job offers to candidates in the Express Entry pool after completing a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to demonstrate that they are unable to meet their labour market needs within Canada. The LMIA is free and will be processed in 10 days. Employers can expect applications for permanent residency to be processed within six months, a significant improvement from the average 18-24 month processing period that employers have faced in the past.

Sometime later this year (date TBD), employers will have direct access to Express Entry applicants through a revamped Job Bank, the federal government's job database. This is expected to facilitate connections between employers and candidates. The OCC will continue to provide updates on employer involvement in the system.


Amendments to the Employment Standards Act Create New Employer Obligations

Ongoing

In November 2014, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 18, the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014, increasing employers' employment-related obligations and making a number of changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000. These include:

  • Removal of the $10,000 cap on the amount that an employer can be required to pay to an employee in unpaid wages. In addition, the limitation period for bringing forward a complaint to the Ministry of Labour for non-payment of wages will be extended from six months to two years. These changes will come into effect at the end of February 2015.
  • Granting employment standards officers the ability to require an employer to conduct a mandatory self-audit of their records, practices, or both to determine their compliance with the ESA.
  • Requiring employers to provide each employee with a copy of the most recent informational poster published by the Minister of Labour, and Ministry-prepared translations of such posters (if any), if requested by the employee. These changes will come into effect at the end of May 2015.

Please note that this post includes hyperlinks to third party websites. Although the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and its member Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade make reasonable efforts to obtain reliable content from third parties, the OCC and its member Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade do not guarantee the accuracy of any third party content. The OCC and its member Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade do not necessarily endorse the legislative or regulatory changes listed here.




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