Because of the unique attributes of staffing and recruitment in Canada, a major focus of the association’s advocacy is to proactively ensure that labour and employment laws do not impede staffing agency operations or unnecessarily increase costs, which could reduce labor market flexibility. In its most recent 2022/23 economic report, Staffing Industry Analysts recognizes Canada as the market with the least regulations and legislative restrictions in the world.
ACSESS continues to assume a leadership role in ensuring that industry members are aware of legislative and regulatory changes on a national scale which if implemented may affect their businesses. Our national committee and sub-commitments continue to actively monitor legislative developments in all provinces on a wide range of industry specific policy issues.
Since our last report to members, ACSESS has continued to make our industry's views known across a wide range of policy issues. We have represented members on several public policy fronts, including industry licensing, rate reform consultations, pay transparency, employment standards and federal procurement. Since our last report, our focus has been on Licensing framework regulations consultations and relationship building with key government officials on a national scale.
Alberta - Service Alberta (in consultation with ACSESS) has developed a compliance standards document to assist staffing and recruitment firms and ensure compliance under the Consumer Protection Act and the Employment Agency Business Licensing Regulation. The standards and interpretations will address the most frequently asked questions and the most significant issues from an enforcement and compliance perspective.
Ontario – Since the July 4th 2023 ministerial announcement and launch of the licensing application portal, ACSESS has been working closely with the Minister’s policy team on potential amendments to the framework and to address unintended consequences including the dual application requirement. We also reaffirmed the need to consider a surety bond as the preferred form of security requirement (to replace existing Letter of Credit requirement).
We are very pleased to report that the new Minister (David Piccini) recognizes ACSESS committee contributions (having worked closely with his predecessor) and is very appreciative of our members longstanding commitment to licensing and upholding the highest ethical standards. The new minister has agreed to continue to partner with ACSESS to ensure that the new regime – when launched – is effective and meaningful in achieving its goals. Minister David Piccini recognizes the ACSESS experience and expertise in working with other provinces on similar frameworks and remains committed to industry licensing for staffing and recruitment firms in Ontario.
In early October, our committee was informed of the possibility that the “coming into effect” date may be subject to change. Subject to official confirmation in writing, the January 1st 2024 date of implementation may be delayed 6-8 months (coming into effect in June-August).
Backgrounder: In early July, the Ontario government issued proclamations to bring into force the new licensing requirements for THAs and recruiters, which will come into force in a staged fashion. Stage 1 will commence on July 1, 2023, at which time the bulk of the licensing provisions will come into force to facilitate THAs and recruiters to prepare and submit their license applications. Stage 2 will commence on January 1, 2024, on which date the remaining provisions (including the prohibition on operating without a license) will take effect.
The government has also published a series of regulations providing greater guidance on the licensing regime for THAs and recruiters, including providing detail on additional licensing requirements. These regulations (O. Reg. 99/23, O. Reg. 100/23 and O. Reg. 101/23) will also generally come into force on July 1, 2023 to facilitate the application process,
ACSESS, a primary stakeholder, worked closely with Ministry staff on the drafting of the regulations for industry licensing in Ontario. The regulations will include new penalties on firms that violate basic safety and employment standards, posting of a surety bond and new vetting requirements prior to the issuance of a license. As part of its mandate, ACSESS has long supported and advocated for initiatives to ensure that all temporary help agencies (THAs) comply with their legal obligations. This creates a level playing field for ACSESS member agencies and results in a fairer industry for THAs, their clients and assignment employees alike.
Consistent with this longstanding position, ACSESS supports the creation of a licensing regime for THAs, provided that the government is committed to investing the resources needed to ensure that any such regime is meaningful and effective in achieving its goals, which must include holding accountable unethical and illegal THAs that tarnish the reputation of the entire industry.
The Portable Benefits Advisory Panel was established in Ontario to report on the viability, design and implementation of a program that could provide portable benefits to millions of workers who change jobs often and may not have access to employer-provided benefits. The Panel will issue a report with their recommendations next year. The Panel identified ACSESS as an important stakeholder during this process and the have requested our perspective and input as they develop their recommendations in late 2023.
Occupational Health & Safety Committee
Goal: To monitor WSIB / OH & S policies for the industry and protect the interests of ACSESS members with respect to workers’ compensation and health and safety issues in general.
ACSESS continues to sponsor the Excellence program for the Staffing Services industry in partnership with WSIB. We are also exploring similar prevention initiatives in other provinces.
Workplace health and safety is a top priority for ACSESS members on a national scale. ACSESS maintains alliances with workers compensation boards in all provinces to help raise staffing firm and client awareness of their respective responsibilities for temporary and contract workers. At the same time, ACSESS works to educate provincial boards in the areas of rate reform and the benefits of industry prevention initiatives.
Goal: Monitor industry issues unique to the province in the area of labour standards and employment legislation and protect the interests of our membership in their dealings with Quebec's governmental departments, boards and agencies.
Quebec - In Quebec, the government adopted new requirements for the Attestation (Revenu Quebec) and the license issued by the Ministry of Labour (CNESST). Staffing firms in the province will now require appropriate clearance from Revenu Québec not only to obtain or renew a CNESST license but also to maintain the license. To alleviate the administrative burden on industry, staffing firms will no longer be required to provide a copy of the attestation to clients. While clients will still be required to ensure that the staffing firm has a license, they will not be required to verify attestation requirements.
The Quebec government has announced plans to phase out the use of staffing firms to staff the public health-care system by 2026. In early April 2023, Bill 10 was adopted unanimously in the national assembly. The bill is built on the principle that using staffing firms should be the exception rather than the rule. The Health Ministry will be able to fix a maximum hourly rate that Quebec would pay employees, referred to by the province as independent workers. Quebec will also be able to decide which health institutions can and cannot contract with staffing firms. The exact timing will be noted in regulations tabled later this Fall. Once regulations are released, ACSESS will be releasing detailed submissions.
ACSESS will be hosting a legal panel update in September, 2023 to update members on new developments in labour and employment law as well as new privacy legislation in the province.
British Columbia - Earlier this summer, the B.C. government passed Bill 13, the 2023 Pay Transparency Act. Prior to finalizing the regulations, the province will be consulting with employers and other organizations, including unions, Indigenous organizations, and other equity-seeking groups, to further its efforts to reduce the gender pay gap in B.C. While both pay transparency and pay equity legislation are concerned with the principle of equal work for equal pay, pay transparency legislation focuses on promoting access to workplace pay-related information, whereas pay equity legislation deals with the pay trends in historically gendered roles and places a legal obligation on certain employers to assess and remedy any gender pay gaps within their workplaces.
ACSESS will be meeting with the Ministry later this month and will be hosting an event in October, 2023 to educate members on key requirements and potential exemptions for staffing firms.
The above Report is also available for downloading and printing in PDF format.