October 15, 2017
Over the past several months, the newly-formed, Landscape Ontario Government Relations Committee has consulted with provincial government policy officials to advocate for green profession interests with regard to proposed labour law reforms.

When the Wynne government announced a proposed 173 amendments to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act last spring, it included significant hikes to minimum wage over the next two year and sweeping changes to scheduling requirements that would be particularly detrimental to the landscaping profession, which is already at mercy to the weather. The amendments included:
  • Employers must pay three hours of wages if they cancel a shift with fewer than 48 hours notice.
  • Employees can refuse shifts without repercussion if the employer gives them less than four day’s notice.
  • Employees on call must be paid three hours at their regular pay rate.
Landscape Ontario was successful in working with government to change the language in regards to scheduling and on-call requirements and continues to work on the changes to minimum wage and the special Landscape Gardener/Horticulture exemptions.

During the committee phases, several exemptions were added to the bill in regards to the scheduling amendments. They include:
  • Where the employer is unable to provide work for the employee because of fire, lightning, power failure, storms or similar causes beyond the employer’s control that result in the stoppage of work;
  • The nature of the employee’s work is weather-dependent and the employer is unable to provide work for the employee for weather related reasons; or
  • The employer is unable to provide work for the employee for such other reasons as may be prescribed.
“The Landscape Ontario Government Relations Committee has been working on strategies on how to solicit the government and how to best communicate the issues and challenges these labour law changes would create for members of our profession,” explained Carmine Filice, partner at Greentario and member of the committee. “There was a feedback timeline that the government had set out for organizations and stakeholder groups, and I know that LO has partnered with AgriCanada and some other organizations on this, and the Government Relations Committee went through all the proposals and addressed them one by one, and those recommendations were presented to the provincial government.”

The bill is currently in second reading at the provincial legislature and could be subject to further amendments or changes. LO is optimistic these changes will help protect the interests of landscape professionals in the province.
Filice says the Government Relations Committee is focused on being proactive on policy issues that impact the green professions and will continue to develop relationships with policy makers and legislators in an effort to educate and advocate on behalf of the profession.

“We have great members who volunteer their time in the sector groups and committees, and they are really up to speed on what is happening in their sectors,” Filice said. “These are the people we are going to be looking to, when it comes to looking ahead at the issues and policies that could have an impact in the coming months and years. This is one of the tasks of the committee, as we refocus on being proactive, is having the ability to hear from all sector groups.”