Proposed changes to employment standards in Alberta and Ontario

The provincial governments in Alberta and Ontario have recently introduced Bills to amend certain aspects of their employment standards regimes. The amendments contain significant changes that employers in both provinces should be aware of.


In Alberta, the proposed changes include:

  • The introduction of a number of unpaid leaves of absence to align with EI coverage provisions, including long term illness/injury leave, personal and family responsibility leave, bereavement leave, domestic violence leave, citizenship ceremony leave, and leaves associated with the critical illness, death or disappearance of a child.
  • Mandatory 30 minute rest periods for every five hours of work .
  • Requirement for majority consent for compressed work weeks.
  • Overtime banking will be calculated at 1.5 x hours for all hours worked, rather than hour-for-hour.
  • Vacation pay will include more than just basic wages.
  • Increases in minimum vacation entitlements.
  • The current one year service requirement for statutory holiday entitlements will be eliminated and employees will be entitled to statutory holidays which fall on their regular days off.
  • Implementation of penalties for non-compliant employers.
  • These amendments would take effect January 1 2018.
  • Major changes are also proposed to the Alberta Labour Relations Code, especially to secret ballot/card certification standards .

More details of the proposed changes in Alberta can be found on the Government of Alberta’s website.


In Ontario, the proposed changes include:

  • Increased minimum wage (from $11.60/hour to $14.00/hour and then to $15.00/hour) .
  • Casual, part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers will be paid equally to full-time employees who are performing the same job for the same employer, with limited exceptions.
  • Increased minimum vacation entitlement to three weeks of paid vacation for employees with five years’ service with the same employer.
  • Changes to the work scheduling rules, including minimum call-in rules, shift cancellation rules, and “on call” rules.
  • These amendments would take effect in either January or April 2018 or January 2019, depending on the amendment.
  • Major changes are also proposed to the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

More details of the proposed changes in Ontario can be found on the Government of Ontario’s website.


Questions relating to the content of this article may be directed to Matthew Cooperwilliams.

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