Changing Workplaces Review: Labour Relation History and Scope of Coverage

The Labour Relations Act is largely responsible for regulating labour in Ontario since 1993. Amendments have been enacted the two decades since, but because of changes in the nature of work and industry, the Labour Board has decided that now is the time to review those regulations to determine what changes need to be made to adapt to an ever-evolving workplace.

In this week’s article we will discuss the LRA and the amendments attached since. For background on the Changing Workplaces Review, visit our related Changing Workplaces Review posts.

The North America Labour model was based on the United States National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) or Wagner Act of 1935. Subsequent legislation included:

  • 1943 – Collective Bargaining Act
  • 1944 – Wartime Labour Relations Regulations – Order in Council P.C. 1003 –introduced in early 1944 under the War Measures Act
  • 1950 – Ontario introduced Labour Relations Act
  • 1960 – Amendments made to the Act (gave OLRB authority to order reinstatement of employees terminated due to unfair labour practices)
  • 1970 – Reforms enacted, including staring that unions had a duty of fair representation and giving the OLRB remedial power to respond to complaints that a union had not done so

In 1993 the Ontario Labour Relations Act was amended to include domestic workers and professionals including architects, dentists, land surveyors, legal professionals and some doctors. Additional key features included a provision that both full- and part-time employees were to be included and the jobs of striking employees would be protected.

Following the change in government in 1995, the LRA was extensively revised with new legislation which repealed most of the changes introduced in 1993 and adding amendments including replacing the card-based certification process with compulsory certification votes, and lowering the threshold for employees to apply to decertify a bargaining agent.

In 1998, additional changes were made that allowed employers to challenge union’s estimated number of employees in a proposed bargaining unit.

Amendments in 2000 included requiring employers to post and distribute information on the decertification process and to disclose salaries for all union officials and employees earning more than $100,000 annually.

After another change in government, amendments to the LRA in 2005 repealed the union salary disclosure provisions and requirement that unionized employers post and distribute information on the decertification process to their employees.

Who is not covered by the LRA?

Several groups of employees who are covered by other legislation including police, firefighters, teachers, public sector employees and agricultural employees do not fall under the jurisdiction of the LRA. Also:

  • Domestic workers employed in a private homes
  • Hunters or trappers
  • Horticultural employees
  • Provincial judges
  • Labour mediators or conciliators

What is the potential impact on the Staffing Industry?

Marina Butler, President of Employment Professionals Canada and expert on staffing and HR in Ontario, notes that over the years, amendments have often reflected the political climate in the Province and Canada at the time. “Staffing firms should make efforts to show the value they bring to both job seekers and industry if they are to be regarded positively when the special advisors make their recommendations.” she states.

To remain up-to-date on the latest Ontario employment news and updates, connect with Employment Professionals Canada. From our blog to our talented team, we strive to assist professionals and companies in Ontario to help them succeed. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.

See our related posts on the Changing Workplaces Review series: