Ontario Changing Workplaces Review

Two Special Advisors were tasked by the Ontario government to conduct a thorough and independent examination of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), and Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA), and determine how they can be updated to reflect today’s modern workplaces.

After nearly two years of review, and many consultations with labour, business, and the public, the Special Advisors completed their Final Report of the Changing Workplaces Review in May 2017, which contained more than 173 recommendations for change for government consideration.

Use the links below to learn more about the Changing Workplaces Review and the resulting legislation.


CFA was largely involved in the Changing Workplaces Review for many reasons. Firstly, this was a large undertaking of Ontario’s labour and employment laws, the results of which would ultimately change the employment landscape for all Ontario businesses, employers, and employees. CFA felt the need to ensure that any recommendation for change coming out of the Review not only reflected the modern workforce, but ensured a balance for employees and employers. Most importantly, we needed to ensure that no recommendation adversely affected nor unfairly targeted franchise businesses.
After meeting with the Review’s Special Advisors and reading the Changing Workplaces Review Interim Report, it became very clear that the franchise industry was grossly misunderstood, and was being mischaracterized as a business model for franchisors to evade liability under Ontario’s labour and employment laws. One of the main concerns that led to this thought was the suggestion from the Special Advisors for the Ontario government to consider making franchisors and franchisees joint-employers of franchisees’ employees. This suggestion came without a full understanding of the business model, and without data to back up the Special Advisors’ claim that franchise businesses are disproportionately responsible for a large number of ESA violations. A joint-employer provision, from the perspective of the Special Advisors, would curb this perceived problem by ensuring the franchisor take responsibility for any violation made by the franchisee or franchisees employees. Unfortunately, this represented a vast misunderstanding of the franchisor’s role in the franchisee’s day-to-day business. For example, the franchisee is responsible for scheduling, hiring, firing, payroll, etc. The franchisor has no input into those decisions, and therefore making the franchisor liable for concerns arising from day-to-day issues is unfair. As well, should that become the case, the franchisee is no longer an independent small business owner. If the franchisor were forced to take control over those decisions, the franchisee would become a glorified store manager. Neither of these situations properly reflects the franchise business model.
We understood how vital the independent nature of the franchisor-franchisee relationship is to the success of the franchise business model, and we knew we had to ensure government also understood this loud and clear. For more than two years, CFA fought tirelessly to ensure the integrity of the franchise business model was protected through government meetings and consultations with the Special Advisors and elected decision makers. CFA also co-founded a coalition with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce called the “Keep Ontario Working” Coalition, which comprised a number of employers, businesses, and employer associations who were also concerned with the negative tone the Special Advisors’ report took regarding the business community. Although CFA’s Government Relations team was laser-focused on combating the issues from the Changing Workplaces Review, we were continuously told that the business community was not loud enough with its concerns. This led us to activate our membership of franchisors and franchisees through grassroots advocacy to let government know how important this Review was to so many business owners. CFA’s grassroots movement united the collective concern of franchisors and franchisees, sending more than 500 letters and emails to Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) all across the province of Ontario. To further our grassroots movement, CFA held a Franchise Awareness Day at Queen’s Park on March 28, 2017. The event brought together 50 CFA members from brands like Pizza Pizza, Two Men and a Truck Canada, Licesquad.com, and Home Instead Senior Care, to meet with 24 MPPs from ridings across Ontario. In these meetings, CFA members had the opportunity to tell MPPs about their businesses, the jobs they create, the positive impact they have on their communities, and their concerns with the Changing Workplaces Review. These initiatives proved to be an extremely effective way to harness the thoughts and ideas of CFA’s members in order to create change and influence the government.
Through our Franchise Awareness Day, letter-writing campaign, and face-to-face meetings with government officials at Queen’s Park and in their constituency offices, we were able to ensure that joint-employer and any other provisions specifically targeting the franchise industry were NOT included in the government’s final legislation. CFA applauds the Government of Ontario for recognizing the independent business relationship between franchisor and franchisee, as well as the significant contribution the franchising sector makes to the economy. Although franchising was not specifically targeted, the government’s proposals do contain a number of provisions which will have an impact on Ontario businesses. These include:
  • Card check certification for the building services sector, home care sector, and community services industry;
  • $15 minimum wage by 2019;
  • Part-time workers to receive equal pay for equal work as done by full-time workers;
  • New scheduling rules;
  • Removal of 50-employee threshold to Personal Emergency Leave (PEL) requirements;
  • Allowing unions to access employee lists and certain contact information, provided the union can demonstrate at least 20 per cent support;
  • Allowing the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to change the structure of bargaining units within a single employer, where the existing bargaining units are no longer appropriate for collective bargaining;
  • Allowing the OLRB to consolidate newly certified bargaining units with other existing bargaining units under a single employer, where those units are represented by the same bargaining agent; and
  • Increasing maximum fines under the Labour Relations Act.
CFA will continue to remain diligent in bringing the issues of the franchise industry forward throughout the summer, during the legislation’s consultation period and through to Royal Assent in early fall. We will also continue to work alongside the Keep Ontario Working Coalition to determine our next steps with the introduction of the various ERA and LRA amendments that affect the business industry. If you have any comments or issues to communicate to CFA’s Government Relations team, please contact Ryan Eickmeier, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy at reickmeier@cfa.ca or call 416-695-2896 ext. 297.

Ontario Government Introduces Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Learn more

Joint Employer NOT Included as Ontario Government Announces Proposed Changes to Employment Standards and Labour Relations Laws (Learn more

Ontario government releases Changing Workplaces Review Final Report (Learn more

Special Panel Presentation Video: The Changing Workplaces Review and its Impact on Franchisors and Franchisees

Webinar: Protect Your Brand Without Becoming a Co-Employer – Archived

Webinar: Bill 148 - What It Means for the Franchising Industry

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Thank you to the following members who are National Sponsors and support CFA throughout the year:

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Canadian Franchise Association (CFA)
116-5399 Eglinton Ave W
Toronto, Ontario
M9C 5K6

T: 416-695-2896
F: 416-695-1950
E: info@cfa.ca
H: Weekdays, 9am-5pm

Upcoming Events

  1. Franchise Canada Show in Montreal

    September 15 - September 16
  2. Franchiser Votre Entreprise Seminaire (Montréal)

    September 17 @ 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
  3. CFA Franchise Law Day 2018

    September 27 @ 8:30 am - 5:00 pm