April 29, 2019
Ontario’s government passed the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act (Bill 66). It received Royal Assent on April 3, 2019. The Act will reduce specific regulatory burdens in 12 sectors. Below are the changes that may affect the landscape/horticulture sector:

Ministry of Labour

An amendment to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) means businesses are no longer required to obtain approval from the Director of Employment Standards for excess hours of work and overtime averaging. This eliminates the requirements for workers and employers to apply to the MOL after they have both agreed to additional weekly hours of work and overtime averaging. The amendment retains the requirement for written agreements with employees, but applying for permission from the Ministry of Labour is no longer necessary.

Another amendment simplifies the required distribution of the ESA poster. Previously, employers needed to give a copy of the ESA poster to each worker and also post it somewhere in the workplace. Employers are now responsible for sending a copy of the poster directly to their workers.

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

The outdated and time-consuming reporting requirements under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act, including those required for loan guarantee programs, have been removed. The Minister now has authority to establish or make changes to loan guarantee programs not affecting the amount or form of the guarantee through a Minister’s Order. The Lieutenant Governor retains the authority over the amount and form of the guarantee.

The Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA) will now cover ornamental horticultural workers. These changes establish more equity, consistency and clarity among agricultural workers. They bring some ornamental horticultural farmers and their employees under the AEPA, ensuring the same protection as agricultural workers in other sectors. Previously, most of this small subset of workers was part of an exemption clause under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 — leaving them without legal protection. The amendment has clarified which workers the AEPA covers.

Amendments under the Farm Registration and Farm Organizations Funding Act will simplify delivery of programs and enhance responsiveness. Previous processes required a regulation to amend payment amounts. This created delays and prohibited accredited farm organizations from responding to funding needs.

Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

The Environmental Activity and Sector Registry regulation will be expanded for low-risk water takings — such as where water is removed for a short time and then returned to a nearby point, with no significant change to water quantity or quality. Moving these activities to a permit-by-rule system allows businesses to begin operations faster. At the same time, it continues to ensure that water takings in Ontario are managed in accordance with the province’s strict environmental standards, and in keeping with the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement.

Ministry of Labour

Changes to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act will allow updated labels to be placed on existing chemical containers. Without this change, existing chemicals needed to be disposed of, and new chemicals purchased.

For a link to the full list of changes affecting all sectors can be found online.