Workers Health & Safety Centre

Changing Workplaces Review submission deadline fast approaching

Precarious worker Senthil Thevar inside the Workers Action Centre
There’s still time to comment on a public review of Ontario’s major employment laws, an opportunity to protect the growing ranks of workers employed in precarious work.
The Ministry of Labour-appointed Changing Workplaces Review is evaluating how the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act should change to keep pace with and reflect the needs of today’s workers and workplaces. The interim report, by special advisors C. Michael Mitchell and Honourable John C. Murray, follows public consultations in 12 cities across Ontario and identifies some 50 issues and over 225 options to address them.
The review examines workplace trends including: increase in non-standard work (e.g., temporary jobs, involuntary part-time work, and self-employment); prominence of the service sector; globalization and trade liberalization; rapid technological change and greater workplace diversity.
Research finds workers in precarious jobs are less likely to report health and safety concerns for fear of job loss and are twice as likely to have poorer mental health than those in secure jobs.
The interim report speaks to a number of overarching issues including:
  • A commitment to creating decent work for all Ontarians.
  • Worker vulnerability and need for a broader definition. The Report points out fulltime workers can be vulnerable too.
  • Protection of Temporary Help Agency (THA) workers. Temporary work has grown faster than any other form of employment. Researchers find THA workers are more likely to be lower paid, at greater risk for injury, experience poorer health, and have difficulty understanding and exercising their legal rights.
  • Exploring options for effective employee ‘voice’ in workplace matters.
Some of the report’s options on enforcement and compliance penalties, if implemented, could significantly impact workplace health and safety practices. Among these:
  • Creating a Director of Enforcement to oversee employment standards violations and possibly health and safety reprisal cases; 
  • Eliminating prosecutions and expanding Ontario Labour Relations Board powers to impose administrative monetary penalties (AMP) for employment standards violations (Note: A 2010 expert panel report into Ontario’s health and safety system recommended greater use of AMPs for health and safety violations);
  • Expanding the role of joint health and safety committees to deal with employment standards matters.
Deadline for submitting comments on the Review’s interim report is October 14, 2016.
Contact the Ontario Ministry of Labour by:
Mail: Changing Workplaces Review
         ELCPB 400 University Ave., 12th Floor
         Toronto, Ontario M7A 1T7
Fax: 416-326-7650

Other related resources:
Ontario reviews employment laws in face of changing workplaces
OFL Precarious Work Survey - Make It Fair
Workers Action Centre:  Building Decent Jobs from the Ground Up
The Workers Health & Safety Centre offers a full range of health and safety training including programs for joint health and safety committee members and worker representatives in small workplaces. Also, check out WHSC resources for health and safety representatives.
To learn more:
Email: or
Call:    1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training services representative