PETERBOROUGH — The Ontario government will soon introduce legislation that, if passed, would require employers to include expected salary ranges in job postings, giving workers more information to make informed decisions in their career search. In addition, the legislation would make Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to require businesses to disclose if artificial intelligence (AI) is used during their hiring process.
“At a time when many companies are posting record profits, it is only fair they communicate transparently about how they pay workers,” said David Piccini, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “And as the use of artificial intelligence in Ontario skyrockets, our government will continue to take action to ensure workers aren’t excluded from the job market because of technological biases and that their privacy rights are protected.”
Women in Ontario earn an average of $0.87 for every dollar earned by men – a number that is worse for racialized and Indigenous women. Including salary ranges with job postings can help close the gender pay gap while allowing companies to find qualified candidates more quickly and improve retention, helping tackle the nearly 250,000-person labour shortage.
AI tools and algorithms are being adopted by Ontario businesses at a rapid rate and generate high volumes of personal data about job applicants and employees. Increasingly, they may also make employment decisions that affect people’s lives. In response to growing concerns about the ethical, legal and privacy implications of AI, Ontario is proposing to require employers to inform job seekers when it is used to inform decisions in the hiring process.
Unfortunately, seven in 10 workers have reported experiencing a form of harassment or violence in the workplace – rates that increase for women and gender-diverse workers. To help end workplace misconduct and hold abusers to account, the government will also be conducting consultations and detailed analysis on ending the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) in the settlement of cases of workplace sexual harassment, misconduct or violence.
“The consultations will identify legislative options to restrict the use of NDAs while protecting the rights of victims and survivors,” said Minister Piccini. “It’s past time we end a practice that allows businesses to shelter the behaviour of some of the worst members of our communities.”
These changes are part of a larger package that, if passed, would expand on the ground-breaking actions introduced in the Working for Workers Acts, 2021, 2022 and 2023, which will be unveiled in the coming days to protect workers, help them earn bigger paycheques, and help newcomers contribute to building Ontario.
Thirty-seven per cent of online job postings in Ontario (2022) included salary information.
In February 2023, Statistics Canada reported that close to seven per cent of all businesses in Ontario were planning to adopt AI over the next 12 months.
The Ministry of the Attorney General, the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities recently restricted the use of NDAs in post-secondary institutions.
In addition, the government is proposing changes to clarify vacation pay provisions to ensure employees are aware that their written agreement is required if vacation pay is paid in any way other than a lump sum before their vacation.
The government is also proposing changes to the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, 2022 (DPWRA) that would create a regulatory authority to provide greater flexibility on how pay based on minimum wage must be determined. These changes would allow for greater alignment with the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).
"As a charity that provides employment training programs to diverse job seekers, we recognize that increasing transparency and privacy in the workplace will benefit all job seekers. Including salary information in job postings can improve the hiring process by attracting more relevant candidates, streamlining recruitment, and enhancing trust and transparency. And as AI becomes more prevalent in the recruitment process, it is crucial to consider potential challenges and ethical concerns when using AI in applicant screening. These include issues related to data privacy, algorithmic bias, and the potential for excluding highly qualified candidates who might not fit a specific mold or profile. As the Ministry continues its work in making job searches more transparent and equitable for the people of Ontario, this announcement is a positive step forward."
- David Allen,
President & CEO, YMCA of Central East Ontario
"The John Howard Society offices across Ontario specialize in assisting jobseekers facing multiple barriers in finding employment. A transparent recruitment process is crucial to ensuring that applicants are well-informed and have the tools they need to make decisions about their careers, which is why we welcome the Ontario government’s initiative to introduce legislation that requires employers to provide more comprehensive details in job postings, enhancing applicants’ access to information surrounding the hiring process."
- Christin Cullen,
Chief Executive Officer, John Howard Society of Ontario
"YES annually empowers thousands of youth with employment opportunities, and Minister Piccini's initiative is set to break down biases, enhance transparency and equality for women and marginalized job seekers. The Ontario government is committed to creating better work conditions, making the province even greater."
- Timothy Lang,
President & CEO, YES - Youth Employment Services
"Our research indicates that pay transparency is a key decent work practice that supports the recruitment and retention of top talent. Ontario’s nonprofit sector employs 844,000 workers, 77 per cent of whom are women, and we know that equitable compensation practices such as pay transparency can help reduce the gender wage gap and address systemic barriers that women, especially equity-deserving women, face in compensation. When salary ranges are disclosed on postings, job seekers have an easier time identifying whether the position and its compensation are the right fit, while also supporting effective and streamlined recruitment processes for employers. We applaud the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for taking this important step forward to embed decent work practices in legislation."
- Cathy Taylor, Executive Director, Ontario Nonprofit Network