Recent/upcoming amendments and requirements for provincially regulated employers

There were several legislative amendments made and/or introduced in 2023 for provincially regulated workplaces across Canada. This post recaps some of the key legislative changes and provides an overview of what to anticipate in 2024.

Pay Transparency Act passed in May 2023

Further to our post last year, the Pay Transparency Act in BC was passed on May 11, 2023 to help address systemic discrimination and close the gender pay gap. While some aspects of the Act became effective on November 1, 2023 (i.e., including pay/pay ranges on publicly advertised jobs; not asking past employers about pay; ensuring no adverse action against employees who discuss or ask about their pay), pay transparency reports will be required in stages over the next 4 years.

Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia also have in force pay transparency legislation. Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario have introduced legislation, but neither have been officially enacted yet.

BC recognizes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday

In 2023, BC joined PEI, NWT, Nunavat, and the Yukon in adopting National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday under the Employment Standards Act. While many provincially regulated organizations had previously chosen to recognize the day, September 30, 2023, was the first time it was a required and official statutory holiday in BC.

WorkSafe BC Legal Duty to Cooperate and other worker’s comp updates

While Bill 41 may not seem like a departure from what many employers/employees are currently doing, as of January 1, 2024 employers and workers have a “legal duty to cooperate” with each other and with WorkSafe BC and a “duty to maintain employment” following a workplace injury. This duty (applicable to both employer and employee) includes maintaining communication, identifying suitable work, and providing WorkSafe with relevant information/reporting. The intent is get employees back to work as quickly as possibly.  

The duty to maintain employment applies to employers with 20+ employees and is relevant to employees who have at least one year of service with the employer prior to injury. Employers must make all necessary and reasonable changes to accommodate the employee (to the point of undue hardship) and workers must also comply with their duty to cooperate.

In Nova Scotia, effective September 1, 2024, the Worker’s Compensation Act will recognize gradual onset or traumatic stress as an eligible injury if the stress arises from/is the result of the worker’s employment.

Proposed Working for Workers Four Act in Ontario

On November 14, 2023, Bill 149 (the Working for Workers Four Act) was introduced which, although not yet enacted, would propose to:

  • Amend the definition of employee to require workers to be paid during a trial training period
  • Not allow employers to indicate a requirement for Canadian work experience on their job postings
  • Require employers to publish pay/pay range in job postings
  • Require employers to indicate whether they use AI tools as part of their hiring process
  • Require that any alternate vacation pay arrangements (e.g. paying employees vacation in a lump sum before they start vacation) be specified in an agreement between the employee and employer

Accessibility legislation across Canada – existing & upcoming requirements

With a focus on making workplaces more accessible to people with disabilities, accessibility legislation in many provinces (BC, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan) has been introduced within the last few years (most recently for Saskatchewan in December 2023). While the standards for many provinces are still in the early stages of development, as Norton Rose Fulbright points out, currently, the most developed is in Ontario.

For provincially regulated workplaces in Ontario with 1 to 49 employees, accessibility requirements apply in the following areas: hiring; communicating accommodation policies; ensuring accessible workplace information; providing individualized workplace emergency response information; and managing performance, career, development, and redeployment from an accessibility perspective. For employers with 20+ employees, the accessibility compliance report was due on December 31, 2023.

Within BC, the Accessible British Columbia Act is currently only applicable to public sector organizations. The requirements to establish committees and develop accessibility plans will help set the standard for private-sector employees in the future.  

2024 minimum wage increases in Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan

Increases to minimum wages in 2024 are as follows:

  • Nunavut: Minimum wage increased from $16 to $19/hour on January 1, 2024
  • Prince Edward Island: Minimum wage will increase from $15 to $15.40 on April 1 and then to $16 on October 1, 2024
  • Saskatchewan: Minimum wage will increase from $14 to $15 on October 1, 2024

Jouta’s HR Consultants can help you navigate ongoing legislation amendments and update your practices/documents accordingly.