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Labor Market and Legal Reforms in Ontario, Canada

The current paper pertains to the changes in the labor legislation which are currently under consideration in the province of Ontario, Canada, as well as to the possible future changes in the (global) labor market and to the ways in which these changes will affect millennials. First of all, the proposed changes to the current Ontarian legislation are explained and discussed. Then, the factors which are likely to affect the future labor market are investigated, the ways in which governments could help employees prepare to these changes are considered, and the manner in which a millennial’s career plans can be influenced by these changes are explained. Finally, a hypothetical budget of a millennial living in an urban area in Canada nowadays is estimated, and some steps that a millennial could take to adjust to the future changes in the job market are offered.

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The Changes to the Ontario Employment Standards Act

The Crux of the Recent and Proposed Changes

Currently, a significant amount of changes to the Ontario labor laws, and to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, are under consideration by the government of Ontario (Crawley, 2017; Smeenk & Paquette, 2016). According to the Labor Minister Kevin Flynn, the changes will be aimed at supplying the precarious and vulnerable employees with the legal protection that they ought to have (as cited in Crawley, 2017). It is proposed to introduce changes to the Employment Standards Act (Ontario Ministry of Labour, 2017) which include the following (Crawley, 2017; Smeenk & Paquette, 2016):

  • Obliging the employers to pay compulsory sick leaves to their workers;
  • Including dependent contractors into the list of entities to which the regulations of the Employment Standards Act apply;
  • Increasing the minimum length of the paid vacation provided for workers yearly, and boosting the minimum pay that workers should receive during such a vacation;
  • Prohibiting employers from paying part-time and casual workers less than they pay their full-time employees;
  • Supplying additional requirements pertaining to workers’ schedules, in particular, obliging employers to inform their workers about their schedules beforehand, and to additionally pay the workers whose schedule was suddenly changed;
  • Introducing additional rights for labor unions, and simplifying the process of union creation, as well as making it easier for workers to join labor unions;
  • Introducing liability for parties for the violations of the Ontario Employment Standards Act committed by their contractors, sub-contractors, or franchisees;
  • Cancelling or changing the exclusions from the Ontario Employment Standards Act which currently exist for a variety of entities such as supervisors, managers, residential care workers, or specialists in the area of information technologies;
  • Decreasing the threshold for overtime work from the current 44 hours to 40 hours, and so on.

To sum up, it can easily be seen that the offered provisions are primarily aimed at improving the working conditions for the hired workforce.

The Reasons for Revising the Act

The Ontario government had a considerable number of reasons for proposing the changes to the Ontario Employment Standards Act. According to the Labor Minister Kevin Flynn, there exists a need to update the labor legislation, which was created in the 1990s, for the situation that exists in the world nowadays (as cited in Crawley, 2017). The labor market in Ontario that exists under the current Employment Standards Act features a high proportion of jobs that are part-time or contract jobs (Crawley, 2017), which results in numerous disadvantages for the workers, such as the low chances to find stable, full-time employment, low pay, the inability to plan one’s time due to sudden changes in the schedule, the absence of social protection, the inability of numerous workers to be certain that they will have work tomorrow, and so on.

It is obvious that the “flexible” work, when workers have to comply with a constantly changing schedule, and when their working hours are not consecutive but are spread throughout the day in an unpredictable manner, lead to tremendous waste of these employees’ time, as well as to the workers’ inability to plan anything (which then may cause e.g. problems in personal life, health problems, and so on). It is not a rare occasion when on works for 4 or 5 hours, but these hours are dispersed throughout the day, so one, in fact, loses 10-12 hours in a day to work these 4-5 hours. Practice shows that this causes severe negative consequences for the workers, such as stress, depression, burnout, and other types of harm to their health. This happens not only in Ontario, but also in other regions of the world; for instance, in the U.S., millions of workers are simply absent from the labor market due to the highly adverse situation for employees in it (The Editorial Board, 2016; Irwin, 2016). Therefore, the conditions in the labor market which are profitable for businesses simply mean that the costs are placed on the workers instead, and, because the health of these workers is compromised, all the society pays this cost.

Thus, the new provisions that are offered to be adopted as part of the labor legislation of Ontario are needed in order to supply the numerous hired workers with the possibility to be more protected from precarious working conditions, and to have jobs which may reasonably be called “decent” (Ontario Ministry of Labour, 2016, ch. 2), which should reduce the adverse impact of the precarious labor market on the society. Although it is stressed that legislation alone cannot guarantee that employees have “decent” jobs, it might be able to lay a strong foundation that, in appropriate conditions (such as the compliance of businesses, the proper enforcement of this legislation, etc.) would support the existence and prevalence of such jobs (Ontario Ministry of Labour, 2016, ch. 2).

The Impact of the Changes on Stakeholders

It is apparent that such stakeholders as employees should be positively impacted by the changes proposed for adoption to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, if these changes are accepted and appropriately implemented. In this case, the workers should have greater chances to find full-time employment (at least because the employers will not be able to pay part-time workers less, and this will be less interested in part-time employees), should in practice have more free time (because of the ability to plan resulting from the obligation of employers to inform their workers about their schedules beforehand), ought to be less inclined to work when they are ill (which should have a positive effect on the health of these workers, as well as on that of their colleagues, because there will a lower chance to be infected by a diseased colleague at work), and so on (Ontario Ministry of Labour, 2016).

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Also, the simplified procedures pertaining to the creation and operation of labor unions might allow workers to better protect their rights and interests (it is curious to observe that, according to the notion of the ideal “free market,” everyone should be able to protect their economic interests, but this rarely pertains to workers in the deregulated market), and so on. On the whole, the new changes to the Ontario Employment Standards Act should have a profoundly positive impact on the workers, protect them from numerous adverse aspects on the market, and, probably, also to increase their ability to work (due to the possibly lower rates of stress, depression, and other problems which are often related to work).

As for the impact on such stakeholders as employers, these will have to provide better working conditions for workers – not only due to the direct instructions of the new legal provisions but also because of the potentially increased strength of labor unions. For example, higher salaries for part-time workers mean additional expenses for the businesses, as these will have less opportunity to save money by using part-time workforce. The obligation to inform employees about their schedules beforehand, or to pay them additionally, will also mean more spending – either on appropriate planning, or on additional pay. Lowering the threshold for overtime work demolishes the opportunity to have each worker work additional 4 hours per week without the overtime bonus. Thus, on the whole, the proposed changes should lead to additional expenses for businesses needed for the workforce. This potentially decreases the profitability of a business, and might make it more difficult for some enterprises (especially the new ones) to survive. However, it appears a fair trade once the decrease in the adverse effects of the current situation in the labor market, which were elaborated above, are taken into account.

Possible Future Changes in the Current Jobs

The Drivers of Future Change in the Contemporary Jobs

It is expected that the contemporary labor market will undergo significant changes in the future, even in the next ten to twenty years. There exists a plenty of factors which are estimated to have an impact on the situation in the job market as it exists today. These factors include, among others, the following ones (Autor, 2015; World Economic Forum, n.d.):

  • The ongoing mechanization, computerization, and the implementation of the achievements of robotics into the working environment across a variety of areas;
  • The quick rates of urbanization;
  • The creation of advanced, more durable materials, biotechnology;
  • The ongoing spread of the Internet and mobile technologies;
  • The creation and utilization of innovative sources of energy;
  • The changes in climate;
  • The ongoing globalization and the effective “erasure” of borders between countries, and so on.

These factors are likely to considerably change the working environment and the very nature of jobs which need to be performed by the human. Most of the named factors are likely to result in the growing amount of jobs which require creative or intellectual labor, rather than mechanical labor which can be performed by a variety of machines (Autor, 2015). It might also be expected that the amount of work which needs to be done by human might decrease due to the fact that a large proportion of work will be done by machines.

The Ways in Which the Governments May Help Employees Deal With These Changes

There exists a number of ways in which governments may help employees deal with the changes in the labor market caused by the factors that were named in the previous section (World Economic Forum, n.d.). In the countries where the governments are fully or partially responsible for financing the education, it is possible to divert funds which are currently aimed at training workers who would do tasks that can be performed by machines to the education of professionals on whom there will be demand in the future job market. However, if the government does not directly finance education, it is still possible to offer stimuli to colleges and universities and/or introduce legislation that would lead to the increase in numbers of the workforce for which there will be demand in the future.

It is also possible to provide opportunities to train and adapt to the new market for the individuals who have already received a profession, although the diversion of funds aimed at training more individuals of these professions should reduce the supply of such workers and might help the existing workforce to correspond to the demand for it.

It is also possible for governments to introduce legal changes which would shorten the amount of time one works. For instance, it might be possible to shorten the working week from 40 hours to e.g. 30-32 hours, requiring that one would work, on the average, 6 hours per day five times a week, or e.g. 8 hours per day 4 days a week. However, this will require an increase in hourly wages; but it should be forgotten that because much work will be done by machines, most likely with a greater efficiency, a decrease in the total amount of produced goods should not be expected, so there should exist resources for increasing the hourly wages.

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In fact, the proposals to shorten the working week have already been expressed many times – see, e.g., Coote (2014). This would not only allow for compensating for the decreasing need in human labor, but also for increasing the amount of leisure that people have, and thus enhancing their quality of life.

The Impact of the Drivers of Future Change on the Career Plans of a Millennial

The drivers of future change in the job market are likely to have a significant impact on many people, in particular, on an average millennial. First of all, these drivers are highly probable to influence the career choice of such an individual (if this individual was born in the late 1990s), or might force them to adapt to the changing labor market by, for instance, learning new skills that could be utilized in professions for which there is likely to be a demand in the future (if the person was born in the early 1980s – early 1990s). It is pivotal for millennials to take into account the upcoming changes in the future jobs if they are to be able to find appropriate and decent employment after a decade or two have passed.

The Career Plans of an Average Millennial in Canada, and Preparation for the Changes in the Future Job Market

The Money Needed for a Millennial to Live in a Reasonable Life Style in an Urban Location in Canada

The following calculations are approximate and are based on the prices in Victoria, British Columbia, as reported by Numbeo (n.d.). The food includes a very approximate estimate for an adult person (a millennial, aged 20-35) and one child.

Name Cost per Unit, C$ Number or Amount over a Month Total Cost, C$
Monthly ticket 85 2 170
Utilities (electricity, heating, water, trash) 110 1 110
Internet 70 1 70
Mobile phone 0.35 per minute ≈350 ≈125
Rent, not downtown 1000 1 1000
TOTAL 1475
Meal in mid-range restaurant 25 22 (once every working day for the adult) 550
Milk 2 10 20
Bread 3 15 45
Eggs 0.3 30 9
Cheese 20 2 40
Rice 4 5 20
Chicken 15 5 75
Beef 18 5 90
Potato 2 10 20
Apples 4 5 20
Oranges 4 5 20
Tomato 4 5 20
Bananas 2 5 10
Fitness club, monthly price 45 1 45
Cinema 12 3 36
Jeans 60 0.5 30
Shoes 120 0.5 60
Schooling for the child 16,000 per year 1/12 1333

Therefore, a monthly salary of 4,000 C$ would be necessary to meet these requirements. It should be noted that the estimate is rather modest, and, for instance, the costs of medications and/or medical insurance were not included in it.

The medical insurance, however, might be included in the indirect work compensation for the person in question. The indirect work compensation should also include at least the pay for the annual vacation, other cost-related expenses such as the use of the phone (the table assumes that the person uses the phone for nearly 11.6 minutes daily), and so on.

The Steps That a Millennial Could Take to Prepare and Protect Oneself From the Adverse Impacts of the Drivers of Change in the Job Market

As has already been noted, the future changes in the job market will have a significant impact on the future employees (Autor, 2015; World Economic Forum, n.d.), and on the millennials, who are currently approximately 17-37 years old (if they were born in 1980-2000), in particular. If the young millennials are to prepare for the adverse impacts of the changes in the labor market, they should choose the careers which are likely to be in demand in the future – that is, the careers pertaining to information technologies, robotics, science, as well as to creative professions, services, and organizational specializations. As for older millennials who have already received a profession that is likely to not be in demand in the future, these will have to either select an entirely new occupation or to find a type of work which is more or less close to their current profession but is unlikely to not be in demand in the future. It might be possible to state that in a large proportion of areas, it is possible to find a career that will still be needed even after the changes in the labor market driven by the factors mentioned above will take place.


On the whole, it should be stressed that the proposed changes to the current Ontarian labor legislation should be highly beneficial for hired workers and probably for the society on the whole, but might result in some additional expenses for the business. The jobs as they exist nowadays are likely to undergo significant changes in the future, and these changes might considerably impact a career choice of a millennial. A millennial living in a Canadian city such as Victoria, British Columbia, might need nearly 4,000 Canadian dollar per month to live a reasonably modest lifestyle. Finally, millennials should prepare to future changes in the labor market to protect themselves from its possible negative influences on the human workforce.


Autor, D. H. (2015). Why are there still so many jobs? The history and future of workplace automation. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29(3), 3-30.

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Coote, A. (2014). 10 reasons for a shorter working week.

Crawley, M. (2017). Big changes considered for Ontario workplaces.

The Editorial Board. (2016). Millions of men are missing from the job market. The New York Times.

Irwin, N. (2016). Would America have fewer missing workers if it were more like France? The New York Times.

Numbeo. (n.d.). Cost of living in Victoria.

Ontario Ministry of Labour. (2016). Changing workplaces review: Special advisors’ interim report.

Ontario Ministry of Labour. (2017). Employment standards.

Smeenk, B. P., & Paquette, C. (2016). Drastic changes to ontario’s workplace laws under consideration. Web.

World Economic Forum. (n.d.). Employment trends.

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