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The legislation governing unionized workplaces in Ontario, the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the “LRA”) will be amended by the Ontario government if the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 (“Bill 47”) passes in its current form.  Expected changes will include the following:

Repeal of Union’s ability to obtain a list of employees

Currently, s, 6.1 allows a trade union to obtain a list of employee names and contact information if the union obtains membership cards from twenty percent of affected employees. This section will be repealed, and any names/contact information a union may have obtained under the current legislation must be destroyed as of the date Bill 47 takes effect.

Tightening of automatic certification provisions for unfair labour practices

Currently, s. 11(2) provides that the Labour Relations Board (the “Board”) is required to certify a union if an employer contravenes the LRA in a manner that results in: (a) a representation vote that does not reflect the “true wishes of the employees,” or (b) a failure by the union to demonstrate that 40% of more of the individuals in the proposed bargaining unit are members of the union when an application is filed. In other words, the Board currently has no authority to award any alternative remedies other than certification.

Bill 47 will replace Section 11(2) with a provision allowing the Board to award alternative remedies and restricting the Board’s power to award automatic union certification. The Board may:

  • order that a representation vote be taken and do anything to ensure that the representation vote reflects the true wishes of the employees in the bargaining unit;
  • order that another representation vote be taken and do anything to ensure that the representation vote reflects the true wishes of the employees in the bargaining unit; or
  • certify the trade union as the bargaining agent of the employees in the bargaining unit that the Board determines could be appropriate for collective bargaining if no other remedy would be sufficient to counter the effects of the contravention. [emphasis added]

Elimination of card-based certification for certain employers

Section 15.2 allows unions to seek card-based certification (i.e. certification without a vote) for employees in the building services industry, the home care and community services industry, and the temporary help agency industry. This section will be repealed.

Elimination of application of successor rights provisions to prescribed certain funded entities

Section 69.2 provides that the successor rights provisions, which essentially provide continuity of a bargaining relationship in the event of a sale of business, may apply to service providers that receive public funding if the regulations provide. This section will be repealed.

More permissive applications for review of bargaining unit structure

Currently, s. 15.1 provides that employers or unions can only apply to the Board for a review of the structure of bargaining units under certain limited circumstances. Most importantly, such an application can normally only be brought before a collective agreement was entered into in respect of the bargaining unit.

Bill 47 will replace s. 15.1 with a new provision providing employers and unions with greater flexibility to apply for a Board review of bargaining units. Specifically, only two conditions will need to be met for the Board to review the structure of a bargaining unit:

  • an employer or a trade union that represents a bargaining unit of employees of an employer makes an application to the Board requesting the review; and
  • the Board is satisfied that the bargaining units are no longer appropriate for collective bargaining.

Lower fines for convictions under the LRA

The maximum amount of a fine upon conviction for an offence will be lowered from $5000 to $2000 for individuals and from $100,000 to $25,000 for corporations.

Modernized Communications Provisions

Section 122 will also be amended to modernize communications delivered under the LRA. Specifically, parties will be able to send any notice or communication by a variety of means, including email, courier, mail, fax, or “any other method that may be prescribed”.

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