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2016/17 Employment Standards Proactive Enforcement Plan

  • Issued: April 1, 2016
  • Content last reviewed: April 2016

Ministry of Labour employment standards officers proactively enforce the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and its regulations at workplaces across the province by conducting inspections. Proactive enforcement is also supported through investigation of claims filed by employees who believe their rights under the ESA may have been violated.


In recent years, the ministry’s employment standards enforcement strategy has been to increase employee and employer awareness and compliance with the ESA by conducting proactive inspections of workplaces, and focusing on high-risk sectors. Proactive inspections are initiated by the ministry and do not require a complaint to be filed against an employer.

The goal of proactive inspections is to ensure compliance with the ESA and its regulations and to educate employers about their obligations. During a proactive inspection, an employment standards officer will:

  • educate the employer about their obligations under the ESA and its regulations,
  • communicate the requirements and raise awareness and understanding of the ESA,
  • promote self-reliance in the workplace and direct employers to “tools” available to assist with compliance, and
  • take enforcement action as needed for each workplace inspected.
Table 1: Proactive Inspections by Fiscal Year: 2011 – 2015
Fiscal Year (April 1 - March 31) Proactive Inspections Completed
2011/12 2,248
2012/13 2,460
2013/14 2,232
2014/15 2,477

The top five employment standards violations discovered during proactive inspections in 2014/15 were:

  1. Public Holidays/Public Holiday Pay
  2. Record Keeping
  3. Overtime Pay
  4. Vacation Pay/Vacation Time
  5. Hours of Work: Excess Daily or Weekly

2016/17 Proactive Enforcement Plan

The Employment Standards Program met with stakeholders across the province in December 2015 to help inform proactive enforcement planning for the 2016/17 fiscal year. Participants provided feedback on where the ministry should be focusing its proactive employment standards efforts. That feedback has been incorporated into this year’s plan.

This year, the ministry’s proactive enforcement strategy will focus on sectors where there is a history of employment standards violations, where young and/or vulnerable workers are employed, and where an increasing number of Ontarians are working.

The chart below includes information about the ministry’s planned, province-wide employment standards blitzes. These blitzes are in addition to the ministry’s ongoing enforcement efforts. Officers will continue to conduct regular proactive inspections throughout the year.

Table 2: Provincial Employment Standards Blitzes
Blitz Sectors Timing Resources
Temporary Foreign Workers Construction, Food Services, Retail Trade, and other sectors known to employ temporary foreign workers May 2 – June 30, 2016  
Young Workers Food Services, Retail Trade, Construction and other sectors known to employ young workers May 2 – June 30, 2016  
Repeat Violators / Zero Tolerance Professional Services, Services to Buildings and Dwellings, Other Amusement and Recreation Industries, Personal Care Services and other sectors with repeat violators September 1 – October 31, 2016  

In addition to province-wide blitzes, the ministry will also conduct various local employment standards blitzes throughout the year:

  • Central East Region Local Blitz
    • Districts: Toronto, Durham
    • Sector(s): Child Day-Care Services
    • Timing: October 1 – November 30, 2016
  • Central West Region Local Blitz
    • Districts: Simcoe, Peel, Dufferin, York
    • Sector(s): Manufacturing
    • Timing: September 1 – October 31, 2016
  • Eastern Region Local Blitz
    • Districts: Ottawa, Kingston, Peterborough
    • Sector(s): Fitness Centres
    • Timing: October 1 – November 30, 2016
  • Northern Region Local Blitz
    • Districts: Thunder Bay, North Bay, Timmins, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie
    • Sector(s): Tow Truck Companies
    • Timing: September 1 – October 31, 2016
  • Western Local Blitz
    • Districts: Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Wellington/Cambridge, London, Windsor, Niagara
    • Sector(s): Small Manufacturing
    • Timing: September 1 – October 31, 2016

For more information about what an employer can expect during an inspection see the Role of the Ministry of Labour chapter in Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, watch our video on What to Expect During an Employment Standards Inspection, or call the Employment Standards Information Centre at: 416-326-7160 (Greater Toronto Area) 1-800-531-5551 (Toll-free) 1-866-567-8893 (TTY for hearing impaired). Information is available in multiple languages.