Employment Standards in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta

Amendments to BC’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) were announced in April and more changes are expected later in the year. This follows the 2017 employment standards updates in Ontario under Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act; and Alberta’s Bill 17: The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act. A comprehensive review of BC’s Employment Standard Act has not been carried out in over 20 years.

In BC the ESA amendments will phase out the liquor server wage, and add new and extended protected employee leaves to better align with changes in Ontario and Alberta, and correspond with the federal EI changes allowing longer parental leave.

Click here to download a table that compares the employment standards in BC, Ontario and Alberta. It aims to help employers understand how employment standards changes in Ontario and Alberta may influence additional amendments in BC. Accordingly, employers can anticipate how similar changes in BC could impact business operations, scheduling, and costs.

Recent changes in Ontario and Alberta, but not yet seen in BC include: protected leave in Ontario and Alberta for domestic violence; additional leaves for caring for ill family members; and in Ontario, 10 days of personal emergency leave with the first 2 days paid. Ontario has also strengthened worker protection around on-call scheduling, and equal pay for seasonal and part-time workers doing the same work as full-time workers.

Introduced April 2018, British Columbia’s Bill 6 aligns BC with federal EI benefits and leaves of absence in other jurisdictions. Updating the employment standards is part of the Ministry of Labour Service Plan (Feb 2018), and the release of the BC Law Institute review of and recommendations for reform of the Employment Standards Act is expected later this year.