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ORHMA's Hospitality Headlines 

Credit Card Interchange Fees Reduced to 1.4%
On Thursday August 9, the Federal Government of Canada announced that it has helped secure new, separate and voluntary commitments from three payment card networks that will lead to lower costs for small and medium-sized businesses — changes largely championed by the Small Business Matters (SBM) Coalition, which the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) has been an active member of, representing and advocating for the hospitality industry in Ontario. Our members have voiced their concerns of paying high credit card interchange fees, in conjunction with many other hefty operating costs, therefore ORHMA was committed to lobby, with the SBM Coalition, for some relief for small and medium sized-businesses. Merchant fees (swipe fees) charged to Canada's small businesses when they process customer transactions paid by credit cards are amongst the highest in the world—ranging from 1.5% to 4% of a purchase. Particularly for small business, these costs constrain their ability to invest in their businesses, their ability to hire new employees and result in increased consumer prices, even for those consumers paying by cash or debit. 

Marijuana In The Workplace: Conversations About the Impact on Employers and Employees 
Workplace Safety & Prevention Services 
How do you fulfill your duty to accommodate while protecting your rights as an employer and those of your employees and customers? How does one define impairment and fit for work? What types of tasks are safety-sensitive? These were just a few of the questions that were discussed in October 2017 when leaders came together at the CEO Health + Safety Leadership Network Roundtable to discuss the impact of the legalization of recreational marijuana in the workplace. The federal Cannabis Act1 was introduced on April 13, 2017. Ontario led province-wide consultations before introducing its Cannabis Act on November 1, 2017. It is expected that in July 2018, cannabis will be legalized across Canada. Read more. 

Changes to Ontario's Public Holiday Pay 
Following feedback from stakeholder groups, including ORHMA and its members, the statutory holiday pay calculation change enacted through Bill 148 will revert back to the four weeks an employee works prior to the holiday divided by 20 beginning July 1, 2018 as an interim measure. The Province will undertake a full review of this section of the ESA in the later part of 2018. The previous enacted calculation created confusion increasing the amount paid to casual employees. Read more.

Ontario Menu Labelling Update 
The Ministry continues to work with public health units (PHUs) and industry to support implementation of the HMCA. In order to support the continued implementation of the HMCA and in response to some of the questions that have been brought to our attention in the last few months, we are pleased to release a 2018 set of questions and answers (Qs and As). These Qs and As have been developed in consultation with PHUs and aim to provide as much clarity as possible, and in areas where there is room for flexibility, the responses aim to promote consensus. In the interest of working towards improving consistency, these questions will be incorporated as part of the inspector training. This is the first set of 2018 Qs and As, and we are currently working on the next set of questions in consultation with PHUs, which will aim to provide further clarity on questions including capitalization of the word “Calories/Cals” and whether specific sections of the store are exempt.Read more. 

Ontario Public Pools Regulation Update  - Effective July 1, 2018
Amalgamation of pool and spa regulations: O. Reg. 428/05 (Public Spas) was introduced in 2005. Many requirements for opening, operating, and maintaining public spas are identical to those for pools in O. Reg. 565 (Public Pools), which has not had significant review since 1944. seven provinces and three territories have a regulation which contains both public pool and spa requirements(2 provinces do not have regulations for public pools and spas). •Requirements for operators of public pools and spas have been aligned to eliminate inconsistencies, and improve clarity and public safety (e.g., testing and recording frequencies; general facility maintenance; first aid box contents; operator training).Ontario’s 35 public health units (PHUs) are mandated to implement, monitor and enforce the new Public Pools Regulation that comes into effect July 1, 2018. ORHMA is working with the MOHLTC to ensure a guide, questions and answer document and other material are readily available to educate and explain the new regulations. ORHMA encourages you to contact your local Public Health Unit as soon as possible to work together on the new changes required.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) is working closely with the PHUs to prepare for the implementation of the new regulations. Please find attached a slide deck to better understand the new regulations for pools and spas in Ontario.  Read more. 

Pay Equity-Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value
John Platz, HRIR Satellite Inc. 
In 1985, although the progressive Conservatives won the election, they were reduced to a minority government.  The Liberals under David Petersen and the NDP under Bob Rae signed a two-year accord that saw them defeat the minority PC’s in a confidence vote and with the understanding that there would be no election for the term and some NDP priorities would be encased in law.  Both parties supported legislation addressing gender-based wage discrimination and thus was born the 1987 Pay Equity Act, which came into effect in 1988.  It was the first province to impact the private sector and remains only one of two, the other being Quebec that followed in 1996. Read more 

Fire Code Amendments
Updated: March 19, 2018 
There are a number of proposed Fire Code Amendments stemming out of the Ministry of Community Services and Correctional Services that will impact many buildings and sections will affect Ontario’s hotels. ORHMA has summarized these changes. We urge you to be in touch with your local fire department inspector for further information on compliance. 

Proposed Fire Code Changes  
  • Exterior Wall Assemblies- Cladding and Cladding Systems
  • Combustible Cladding- furniture in corridors and lobbies
  • Firefighters’ Elevator Out of Service Notification Requirements 
  • Inspection and testing of fire department pumper connection lines for hose standpipe systems
  • Mandating sealed, long-life (10-year) battery-operated smoke alarms 

Ontario First Province in Canada to Introduce Pay Transparency Legislation
Office of the Premier

Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Then Now Next: Ontario's Strategy for Women's Economic Empowerment, a new strategy to help remove long-standing barriers that have kept women from benefiting equally in Ontario's rapidly changing economy. This strategy is a first for Canada, with Ontario becoming the first province to create a strategy focused on initiatives to advance women’s economic development, empowerment and build fair, better workplaces.  ORHMA will monitor this legislation and encourage members to share their comments and concerns in relation to Bill 203: Pay Transparency Act, 2018. This legislation passed first reading on March 6, 2018, and is brought forward by the Ministry of Labour to increase transparency in the hiring processes and give women more information when negotiating fairer compensation that is equal to their male peers.   Read more.  

iAGCO – Phase Two of Online Service Delivery Channel Complete
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is pleased to announce the successful launch of the second phase of its online service delivery channel.  As of January 29, 2018, all alcohol-related transactions with the AGCO can now be completed online through the iAGCO web-based portal, available at This includes applications, renewals and all other related transactions for liquor sales licensees,  liquor manufacturers, manufacturer representatives, grocery store authorization holders, auction authorization holders, liquor delivery services and ferment on premise facility locations.  These services will also continue to be offered through the traditional paper-based transactions for a transition period of approximately one year. At the end of the transition period, all transactions will be offered online only. Read more. AGCO will be hosting a webinar on March 14, 2018, to demonstrate the many features of iAGCO for liquor licensed establishments. Viewers will have the opportunity to learn more about creating and maintaining an account, applying/renewing a license and filling out the Personal and Entity Disclosure form. Additional registration details will be provided over the coming weeks. Read more. 

Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act – Frequently Asked Questions
Ministry of Labour
On November 27, 2017 the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Bill 148) became law, introducing a number of amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).   As part of its ongoing commitment to provide compliance support to employers and employees, the Ministry of Labour has developed a comprehensive FAQ to assist the public with understanding the changes to the ESA. 

“Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act” Updated

Ministry of Labour
The Ministry of Labour has published a guide that explains key sections of the Employment Standards Act, 2000, such as hours of work, public holidays and leaves of absence. The guide has been updated to reflect new provisions that have come into effect as a result of the passing of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017.  Read more. 

Premier Wynne Promises Costly Social Programs in Pre-Election Style Throne Speech
Premier Kathleen Wynne announced to prorogue the legislature. This means that all legislation introduced earlier this legislative session dies on the order paper. This  includes the recent Bill 203, Pay Transparency Act, from Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, which made it through first reading on March 6, 2018. The Liberals will have to reintroduce this legislation and other bills as well. On Monday March 19, the Liberals have brought forward a pre-election style Throne Speech. 
Throne Speech Highlights:
• Making investments to train more apprentices for the workforce, including in emerging fields.
• Focusing on regions that are struggling to achieve economic growth by investing in workers and businesses.
• Investments across Ontario in public infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and transit systems.
• Ensuring more people without a drug and dental benefits plan will have access to more affordable prescription drugs and dental care.

Opposition Reaction: PC leader Doug Ford said there could be “no reset on 15 years of Liberal waste.” NDP leader Andrea Horwath called the attention-grabbing prorogation a “desperate attempt to wipe the slate clean.” Anything the Liberals tell Ontarians they want to accomplish with a new mandate could easily have been completed in the 15 years they sat in power, according to the NDP leader.

The throne speech will forecast what is to come in next week’s budget and ultimately in the Ontario Liberal Party’s campaign platform. In her prorogation announcement Thursday, the premier reiterated how the societal benefits her government has worked towards have not been enjoyed equally. “This throne speech,” she said, “is about making it clear we recognize peoples’ stress and anxiety and that our government is making deliberate choices to invest in the care and the services that the people of this province rely on.”

ORHMA Shares Recommendations for Ontario’s  Budget 
The Minister of Finance has wrapped up his pre budget consultations. The legislature is scheduled to resume February 20, 2018. ORHMA anticipates an early budget to be released and has submitted recommendations to the Minister and his government for their consideration. Following the announcement of Bill 148 and the rapid minimum wage increases, the provincial government had promised “offsets” to assist the hospitality industry with raising costs however Ontario’s “Fiscal Economic Statement” is not adding up to provide relief to our industry. Instead, it is setback for all hospitality businesses in Ontario.  Layering labour reforms and wage increases on top of the growing government policies severely impact the hospitality sector, including rising hydro costs, CPP Enhancements, cap and trade, rising municipal property taxes and the long list of economic challenges faced by the hospitality industry. We ask the Provincial Government, once again, to study the impact these policies have done to businesses while considering the timing of any new policies. When the payroll of a business increases, so too do other costs, such as the EHT, WSIB, Employment Insurance, leaving our members undermined by such ill thought policy decisions. ORHMA’s budget recommendations include:  

• A delay to the next minimum wage increase schedule for January 1, 2019. The recent minimum wage increase has resulted in unprecedented part time job losses. 
• Freeze the liquor server wage.
• Freeze the student wage.
• Reduce LCBO mark up fee charged for licensee alcohol purchases.
• Increase the EHT threshold to $1.5 million to support small business growth and sustainment. 
• Develop energy reduction policies conducive to mid-size and small business.

Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Fire Code Regarding Long-Life Smoke Alarms
The requirements for Long-Life smoke alarms apply to residential occupancies including Hotels where smoke alarms are required and the Fire Code permits the use of battery only operated smoke alarms. (see Proposed Regulation Details). As proposed the requirements would apply effective January 1, 2019.  However existing replaceable battery only operated smoke alarms may remain in use until the smoke alarms are required to be replaced within the time frame indicated in the manufactures instructions. As proposed, the Long-life smoke alarm requirements would not apply to hardwired (with or without battery backup) smoke alarms or to smoke detectors connected to fire alarm systems. To read more on the background of the requirement, click here. 

Understanding Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017 

On November 27, 2017, Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 received Royal Assent and introduced a number of amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) which have come into force on January 1, 2018.  ORHMA is aware of the impact that Bill 148 is having on businesses, especially those operating on razor thin margins and remains committed to assisting operators with any questions or concerns that arise during this time. ORHMA is working diligently with the Ministry of Labour to ensure answers to your questions are received in a timely manner and will be conducting information sessions in multiple regions across Ontario with representation from the Ministry of Labour for member support.  

Supporting Documents:   

Enhancing Support for Youth Employment in Small Businesses
Ontario will provide $124 million over three years in support for youth ages 15 to 29 years, working with Employment Service and Youth Job Connection to support employer hiring and retention beginning January 1, 2018. Through Ontario’s Employment Service program, a small employer with fewer than 100 employees would receive a:
  • $1,000 incentive for hiring a young worker and $1,000 for retaining that worker for six months.
  • Additionally, if workers are hired through Youth Job Connection, a separate program that recruits youth facing employment barriers, employers would receive retention payments of $1,000 after three months, with a further $1,000 payable after six months for each worker.
The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development has indicated that employers should contact Employment Ontario for support with these programs. 

New Chronic Mental Stress Policy Now Available
Mental health of Ontarians in the workplace is just as important as our physical health and safety. After extensive consultations, WSIB created a new Chronic Mental Stress policy and updated our Traumatic Stress policy.   Starting January 1, 2018, people may be eligible for WSIB benefits if they have chronic mental stress caused by their workplace. To be eligible for WSIB benefits, the chronic mental stress must be predominantly caused by a substantial stressor in the workplace. If a claim is allowed, WSIB will help with recovery and return to work. WSIB benefits can include psychological assessment, treatment, prescription medications, and wage replacement. Read more on the chronic mental stress webpage, and find links to resources to help prevent work-related chronic mental stress.  

Understanding Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017 
On November 27th, 2017, Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 received Royal Assent, making extensive changes to Ontario’s ESA, LRA and Occupational Health and Safety Act. Although much attention is focused on the increase to the provincial minimum wage, it is important to note that Bill 148 introduced many additional amendments. ORHMA aims to ensure that our members are aware of Bill 148 and the impacts this legislation has to our hospitality industry.  The document "Understanding Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017" , which ORHMA has prepared for members, provides an overview of the labour laws coming into force on January 1, 2018. This document provides members with an opportunity to recognize concerns and ask questions. We encourage members to communicate any concerns and ask any questions by emailing or calling the ORHMA office at 905-361-0268 or toll free 1-800-668-8906. 

Ministry Of Labour 2017 Blitz Results
From May 1 to August 31, 2017, Ministry of Labour employment standards officers conducted two simultaneous blitzes focusing on: New and Young Workers  Employers who have, or applied for, excess hours or overtime averaging agreements (called HOW agreements).  The purpose of these blitzes was to promote compliance with the Employment Standards Act, 2000, as well as to educate employers and provide them with educational resources. A copy of the Blitz Results report is available. ORHMA  and the Ministry of Labour  continue to meet and discuss Employment Standards. We have been advised that the Ministry of Labour will be conducting another blitz in the Spring of 2018.  

AODA Compliance: Are You Ready to File Your Report?

All organizations in Ontario employing at least one employee are required to comply with a series of requirements under theAccessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) standards and regulations. For organizations with 20 or more employees, the next mandatory reporting deadline is December 31, 2017. 

Ontario has accessibility laws. If your business has 20 or more employees you are legally required to file an accessibility compliance report. These reports were due by December 31, 2017.

The compliance report is a series of yes or no questions. Download a quick and easy accessibility compliance reporting form at

Contact the AODA Help Desk at:
   Toll-free: 1-866-515-2025
   TTY: 416-325-3408 / 1-800-268-7095

For a complete list of your requirements visit

Major Win for Hotel Industry in the City of Toronto - Regulation of the Short Term Accommodation Economy  
On December 7, 2017, the City of Toronto passed bylaws to regulate short term accommodation rentals, allowing rentals only in one’s principal residence. Toronto’s hotel industry is pleased as this will eliminate the commercialization of the Airbnb’s business (and other platforms) in Toronto since it competes directly with the hotels. “The City of Toronto regulatory framework to restrict short term rentals to residences is a great victory for our hospitality industry and it sets an important precedent for other municipalities in Ontario.” said Tony Elenis, President & CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA).   ORHMA and the Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA) worked diligently with the City of Toronto on a regulatory framework for short term rentals and related platforms. We contributed and participated in various stakeholder meetings and public hearings. Together, our efforts were successful. “These laws are critical because it sets a precedent for other municipalities in Ontario”. said Elenis. Read Press Release for more details.

City Of Toronto Defers Harmonized By-Law & Fees For Sidewalk Cafes, Parklets & Marketing Displays  
On Dec. 4, 2017, the City of Toronto's joint Municipal Licensing & Standards and Public Works committees held a meeting regarding the purposed Item JC1.1: harmonized by-law and fees for sidewalk cafes, parklets and marketing displays. ORHMA has participated in various meetings with the staff and has raised the pedestrian clearway issue as a huge concern, resulting in an inclusion in the staff final report. ORHMA communicated with the Mayor's office regarding the purposed bylaws and believe this will be another set back for our industry. The adaptation of a straight, continuous "Pedestrian Clearway" of at least 2.1 metres will penalize many of our members and we continue to call for grandfathering on existing regulations. The report has been deferred indefinitely. "The Joint Licensing and Standards and Public Works and Infrastructure Committees has referred this item to an official or other body without making a decision. Consult the text of the decision for further information on the referral." To read ORHMA's comments, click here.  

Hospitality & Tourism Industry Launches a Sexual Violence & Harassment Intervention Training Program 

On Nov. 30th, the "It's Your Shift" Sexual Violence & Intervention Training program was launched and announced via Press Conference at the Hyatt Regency Toronto. Ontario is ready to train managers, supervisors, front of the house and back of the house employees in the hospitality and tourism sector to identify and intervene in instances of sexual violence and harassment among employees and patrons. "It's Your Shift" will be available to all employees in the hospitality and tourism industry. The training is not only complimentary but is available online at The SHIFT training includes 5 online modules with a dedicated module for supervisors, managers and owners along with job aids, resources and guidelines for the workplace.  

Ministry Of Labour Developing Educational Publication Re: Bill 148 

On November 22, 2017, the legislature passed Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. Bill 148 amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000, the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1990.  Some employers and employees have expressed uncertainty about elements of the personal emergency leave provision and whether their existing policies with respect to paid sick days and other paid days off will fulfill the requirements of personal emergency leave in Bill 148. To address these uncertainties, the Ministry of Labour is developing updated interpretative materials for publication in December 2017. This bulletin will give employees and employers the guidance they need to determine whether existing policies comply with the personal emergency leave provisions and, if not, methods to bring those policies into compliance. ORHMA is currently assisting in drafting content with the Ministry of Labour and seeking answers to the on going questions our membership have regarding Bill 148. 

Federal Government Announces 2018 Will Be The Canada-China Year Of Tourism 
ORHMA welcomes the federal government's announcement that 2018 will be the Canada-China year of tourism. This initiative represents a major opportunity to promote economic collaboration, increase ties between our countries and welcome more Chinese tourists to Canada. Last week, the Prime Minister and the Small Business and Tourism Minister promoted the Canada-China year of tourism as part of their trip to China. Their direct involvement in raising awareness for the program is a sign that the federal government recognizes the importance of tourism as a key economic driver for our province and our country. Events and celebrations that showcase Canadian and Chinese cultures will be held in both countries next year. The Prime Minister also announced that Canada will host the Canada-China Year of Tourism closing ceremonies next fall in China and that China will host the opening ceremonies next spring in Canada. Read more. 

Lack of details on small business tax changes a concern for business coalition

Business coalition opposing tax changes continues to grow, even after changes announced. Despite the federal government’s partial adjustments to its small business tax changes, business groups are still troubled about the potential negative effects the revised proposals will have on small and medium-sized firms. Last week, the concerns were spelled-out in a new letter to the federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau by the Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness which ORHMA is part of a unified voice of now almost 80 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of business owners across the country. Read more

Ontario seeking public input to strengthen worker safety – Voluntary Accreditation Program
Ontario is seeking public input to help create a voluntary accreditation program that will recognize employers who go above and beyond to promote health and safety practices on the job. Many workplaces around the world have begun using internationally recognized standards for occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS) in order to drive continual improvement of health and safety in their organizations. These standards have been used by workplaces for a number of decades, and research has shown that when implemented effectively, more workers go home safe and healthy each and every day. The Ministry of Labour is consulting on a proposed Occupational Health and Safety Management System Accreditation Standard and additional criteria for employer recognition that could form the basis of a voluntary program to encourage the use of these systems. As defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), a health and safety management system “means a coordinated system of procedures, processes and other measures that is designed to be implemented by employers in order to promote continuous improvement in occupational health and safety”. For the purposes of this consultation, health and safety management systems will be referred to as occupational health and safety management systems, or OHSMS. For more information, click here. 

Municipal Accommodation Tax

On November 24th, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Sport had issued the following letter to ORHMA: 
As you know, in response to the requests from the municipal sector, the 2017 Budget granted municipalities the authority to implement a tax on transient accommodations, should they choose to do so I am writing to let you know that the relevant legislative changes will come into effect on December 1, 2017. The new regulations will provide municipalities with the flexibility to determine the design, administration and collection of the tax. The regulations also recognize the importance of tourism in Ontario communities by maintaining funding to existing tourism organizations that have benefited from Destination Marketing Fees (DMF) in the past. While we support the efforts of municipalities to raise additional revenue, we have been clear that municipalities who chose to introduce a tax on transient accommodation must do so in a way that ensure s we can maintain a stable, vibrant tourism environment. 
Read full letter here. 

Airbnb: Eliminating Commercialization to Ensure Fairness
The City of Vancouver is the first major city in Canada that has passed legislation to regulate short-term rentals, allowing rentals only in one’s principal residence.  Toronto is proposing rules similar to Vancouver, restricting short-term rentals to primary residences and introducing a licensing system. This legislation has set precedent for other Canadian cities to follow suit. The elimination of commercialization in the home sharing economy will allow for fairness and a win for the hotel industry.  ORHMA continues to work with the Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA) for a regulatory framework expected to be passed in December 2017 as well as with  other Provincial associations including the Hotel Association of Canada to advocate for similar legislation across the Nation. For more information, click here. 

Federal Fall Economic Statement Released- Small Business Tax Relief
The Federal Government has released the 2017 Fall Economic Statement. ORHMA welcomes the tax relief measures announced within the Fall Economic Statement and advocated with a large coalition to ensure these measures proceeded.
The Government used the 2017 Fall Economic Statement as a platform to: 

  • highlight Canada’s strong economic growth, which has driven increased Federal revenue;
  • leverage that revenue to fund new and increased spending initiatives and to reduce the size of the projected annual Federal deficits; and
  • frame the aforementioned developments as proof that the Government’s fiscal policy has been successful, partly as an attempt to turn the page on the recent, controversial proposals for tax reform.

Federal Small Business Tax Rate Reduction:  The Finance Minister also tabled notice of a “Ways and Means Motion” to amend the Income Tax Act with respect to small businesses.  The small business tax rate will be lowered to 10% effective January 1, 2018 and then to 9% effective January 1, 2019.  The small business tax rate reduction was previously announced as part of the Government’s broader changes to small business taxation policy that were first proposed in July 2017.

Meanwhile, the Government is continuing to develop a revised proposal, to be tabled later this Fall, on rules for income sprinkling by owners of private corporations to members of their family.  Similarly, the Government’s revised proposal for the taxation of passive income within a corporation will be included in Budget 2018.  As announced previously, the Government intends to legislate that the benefits of investing passively within a corporation would disappear at an annual threshold of $50,000 in passive income.

The Ontario Government is gearing up to release their Provincial fall economic statement and ORHMA anticipates offset policy measures to assist with the drastic minimum wage increases proposed in Bill 148. ORHMA will continue to provide updates as we receive further details. The Provincial Government has advised they will be releasing their economic statement within the next couple of weeks.

Ontario Auditor General Releases Special Report - The True Costs of Hydro
The Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, released a special report on the government’s accounting treatment of the Fair Hydro Plan.  The Auditor General said the Liberal government has not recorded “the true financial impact of its energy rate reduction plan.” Instead, it is hiding the cost of refinancing the Global Adjustment (GA) from its budget and financial statements. She also said Bill 132, the Fair Hydro Act, was designed to allow the government to create “needlessly complex” accounting rules, obfuscate the financial impacts of its borrowing plan, and avoid showing a budget deficit or an increase in net debt. The Auditor also said she is required to “speak out” when the government is not presenting financial information “fairly.” She characterized the government’s move as “bigger than an accounting dispute.” The report states “the improper accounting also inappropriately transfers long-term accountability for significantly higher electricity bills to future governments. Future governments will have to explain to ratepayers why electricity rates charged in 2028 and beyond exceed the actual cost of electricity.”

ORHMA Welcomes the Federal Tax Plan Adjustments – Reinstating the Small Business Tax Rate
Canada’s Prime Minister held a surprise announcement to unveil that the Government of Canada intends to lower the national small business tax rate to 9 per cent, effective January 1, 2019. The Federal Government will no longer be moving forward with measures that limit access to the lifetime capital gains exemption. ORHMA is still waiting to hear further details around passive income rules and treatment of capital gains related to business succession. The Federal Government also announced their intention to simplify the proposal to limit the ability of owners of private corporations to lower their personal income taxes by sprinkling their income to family members who do not contribute to the business.

The Small Business Matters Coalition, which ORHMA is an active member of, has been supportive of the reviews launched by this Government to ensure fairness and transparency in the credit card payments network. We are also members of The Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness and together we’ve expressed concerns over the first round of proposed reforms to the small business tax system. Extensive advocacy has yielded a tax reduction for small businesses including those in the hospitality industry who are facing a myriad of cost challenges in Ontario. Business owners will have the opportunity to invest in their own businesses. The coalition had submitted a 
letter that made an impact on tax policy in Canada.  

Ontario Raising Minimum Wage to $15 by 2019 – Bill 148 Passes Second Reading
An announcement was made on October 18 that Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017 has passed second reading debate in the Ontario Legislature. All legislation requires three readings and votes for each before passage. Bill 148 was voted on after question period. It passed with Liberal, New Democrat and Jack MacLaren’s (Independent MPP) support. The PCs opposed the passage of the $15 minimum wage bill (Ayes 66; Nays 25). After second reading, the bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs for further input.  After committee Bill will return to the legislature for third reading. Elected officials will vote after third reading and bill will then proceed to proclaimed into law.

You are now able to reach out to the Clerk of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to request an opportunity to deputize. They have not released committee dates as of yet, however, ORHMA has called to confirm that members can begin to submit names for when the committee does announce dates. A strong showing of a desire to deputize will also demonstrate interest among the general public and potentially motivate the legislature to communicate to government the need for more days for committee. ORHMA has already requested to participate in hearings and to advocate on your behalf. If you would also like to attend and voice your concerns please contact: Eric Rennie, Clerk, or 416-325-3506. 

New OHRC policy statement explains the duty to accommodate under Ontario’s Human Rights Code 
Ontario Human Rights Commission

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released a new policy statement explaining the purpose and importance of the duty to accommodate under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code).

Employers and unions, housing providers and service providers have a legal duty to accommodate the Code-related needs of people who are adversely affected by a requirement, rule or standard. Accommodation is necessary to address barriers in society that would otherwise prevent people from fully taking part in, and contributing to, the community.  

WSIB Issues Final Chronic Mental Stress Policy: What Employers Need to Know

Recent amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA) will expand the scope of benefit entitlement for mental stress to include chronic mental stress. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has just issued the final version of its operational policy in support of this new entitlement. This expanded entitlement will have significant consequences for employers. Read more.

The WSIB’s work-related chronic mental stress website has be updated with the following documents:
 ■the new Chronic Mental Stress Policy (CMS)
■the updated Traumatic Mental Stress Policy 
■the consultation summary report 
■CMS Web copy including FAQs 

CMS Policy Highlights:
 ■To be eligible for WSIB benefits, the chronic mental stress must be predominantly caused by a substantial stressor in the workplace. 
■Mental stress caused by employers’ management decisions are not covered by the WSIB.
■If a claim is allowed, we will help with recovery and return to work. 
■WSIB benefits can include psychological assessment, treatment, prescription medications, and wage replacement.
ORHMA has been involved throughout the consultation process which helped to inform the development of the approved Chronic Mental Stress policy and updated Traumatic Stress policy.

The Ministry of Labour and the Health and Safety Associations will be  developing resources to help employers prevent work-related psychological injuries and build mentally healthy and safe workplaces.

ORHMA Confronts Premier Wynne  
 On Thursday September 28th, ORHMA visited Queen’s Park to discuss Bill 148 with Premier Kathleen Wynne and the negative impact this will have on Ontario’s hospitality industry. It has been requested that ORHMA provide the Provincial Government with policy ideas for potential offsets to the minimum wage increases that are being proposed in Bill 148.  Premier Wynne disagreed with ORHMA in regards to managers, supervisors and senior staff needing an increase in pay, following minimum wage increases. ORHMA explained that a supervisor making $15.00 today will see a new employee being hired for the same wage January 1, 2018 and will be reluctant to accept extra responsibility at the same pay.  Unfortunately, Wynne does not see an issue in this scenario and is under the impression, prior to this meeting, that all restaurants had mandatory tip pooling to assist with those working the back of the house. ORHMA continues to provide feedback and input into offsets, which are to be announced in November by the Minister of  Finance. Premier Wynne made it very clear that any offsets the Provincial Government will bring forward may not be sufficient to cover the cost of minimum wage increases. ORHMA remains in constant dialogue with the provincial government on offset policies to mitigate impact to our industry. ORHMA’s proposed offsets can be read here.  Bill 148 has reached it’s second reading debate allocation. We are monitoring and gearing up for committee. For more information, click here. 

2018 WSIB Premium Rates

The WSIB is funded solely by premium revenue. When setting premium rates for 2018, WSIB had to incorporate costs for legislation related to Chronic Mental Stress (CMS). They considered the number of traumatic mental stress and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) claims across each industry class over the past 10 years.  Overall can industries can expect a 3.3 per cent reduction to the average premium rate in 2018

Some groups would see substantial premium rate increases. In order to ensure stability at the rate group level WSIB:

  • only require increases that relate to CMS legislation
  • cap increases at 5 per cent
  • allow decreases up to 7.6 per cent

There are 27 rate groups affected by the cap on premium rate increases.

2018 Hospitality Premium Rates >> 

ORHMA Takes Action on Airbnb: Study Completed on Impact of Airbnb to Hotel Industry 

Commercial operators are growing exponentially and outpacing actual home sharing activity. This is the result of a new study that has been launched by the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) in partnership with the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) and other Provincial & City associations, including the Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA) and the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association (OGHA). The most comprehensive of its kind, this study, entitled An Overview of Airbnb and the Hotel Sector in Canada: A Focus on Hosts with Multiple Units, focuses on 11 key markets across Canada and examined the impact of the short-term rental market on Canada’s hotel sector, with a key focus on Airbnb as the most widely used digital home-sharing platform in Canada. 

On Wednesday September 27, Tony Elenis, President & CEO of ORHMA, along with Susie Grynol, President & CEO of HAC represented the hotel industry on Parliament Hill as they held a press conference on this study and took action for fairness in the accommodations sector. 


Extending Minimum Wage Implementation Will Slash Job Loss Risk by 74%: Economic Analysis 
The Bill 148 proposed changes will mean real difficulties for Ontario’s Hospitality Industry

The Keep Ontario Working Coalition (KOW), which ORHMA is an active participant, released two major reports. The first is CANCEA’s final economic impact analysis on Bill 148, which was peer-reviewed by Professor Morley Gunderson of the University of Toronto. This report indicates that if the Provincial Government were to do nothing other than implement the minimum wage increase over five years instead of in the next 15 months, jobs at risk would decrease by 74 per cent in the first two years. 

In addition to CANCEA’s final economic impact analysis, the Coalition also released The Flip Side of Fair: Adding Up Bill 148’s Unintended Consequences, a report that gives a voice to local business owners from across Ontario on how Bill 148 will impact them. The report showcases testimonials, which all share a similar sentiment - that the minimum wage increase and labour reforms will have serious consequences for their business, and jeopardize their business’ ability to survive. 

The Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness Confirms Federal Tax Proposals Will Affect Middle Class Business Owners

The Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness, a unified voice of over 70 like minded business organizations like ORHMA representing hundreds of thousands of business owners across the country, has written a new letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau with professional analysis confirming that Ottawa’s tax proposals will affect middle class business owners, resulting in higher tax rates than other Canadians with similar income levels. The government has claimed that these proposals would not affect business owners with incomes under $150,000. Tax practitioners disagree. 

One of the new rules introduced by the government would restrict small business owners from sharing income with family members. Tax practitioners say that this can affect business owners with incomes as modest as $50,000. Also, as two-thirds of Canadian incorporated businesses are majority owned by men, the restrictions on sharing income with a spouse are likely to remove a disproportionately higher number of women from benefiting from their family’s business. 

The federal government is also proposing changes that would discourage small business owners from holding certain types of investments in the incorporated company. According to tax practitioners, business owners retain business earnings in the corporation to safeguard against economic downturns, secure bank financing and invest in other start-up companies.

Canadian Tax practitioners have confirmed that the proposed tax changes would result in higher combined corporate and personal taxes for business owners across the board and in many cases, small business owners would incur tax rates far greater than what an employee with a similar level of income would pay.  

Click here to read letter to the federal Finance Minister.

Credit Card Processing Fees & ORHMA Advocacy 

ORHMA remains a strong advocate with the Small Business Matters Coalition. We have been engaged with the Small Business Coalition to address federal matters to credit card fees for the past three years now.  We continue to  move forward, the Small Business Matters Coalition has been advocating on a number of issues facing our sector, with our initial campaign focused on credit card fees, and their direct impact to the vitality of Canada’s small business community. Merchant fees (swipe fees) charged to Canada’s small businesses when they process customer transactions paid by credit cards are amongst the highest in the world—ranging from 1.5% to 4% of a purchase. Particularly for small business, these costs constrain their ability to invest in their businesses, their ability to hire new employees and result in increased consumer prices, even for those consumers paying by cash or debit. Canadian consumers who pay by cash subsidize the cost of credit card usage which leads to increased consumer prices.  Change is required. Our Small Business Matters Coalition continues to demand change, Canada’s Commissioner of Competition stated that without changes to the rules, retailers would continue to pay excessive fees. SBM coalition members urge the Government of Canada to reduce credit card swipe fees and to bring fairness and transparency to the Canadian payments industry. The Federal Government is reviewing interchange fees as a result of our advocacy efforts. See link to our Small Business Matters Coalition website:

WSIB Rate Framework will Impact Premium Rate Setting

WSIB is implementing the new premium rate setting model, which includes significant internal system modifications that are necessary for a 2020 implementation. Ensuring that every employer is engaged, aware and prepared for the coming changes is of equal importance. It is essential to ensure businesses throughout the province have a clear understanding of how the rate framework will affect them.

WSIB is launching an extensive engagement campaign for the rate framework. The campaign will start with a letter to every business in Ontario that is registered with the WSIB

  • In advance of the mailing, a new rate framework website,, has been launched to ensure employers have access to up-to-date information at all times. The website will feature:
    • A short video on rate framework, FAQs and other information resources
    • Access to a tool that allows businesses to confirm their classification under the new model
    • Information on the policy consultation currently taking place on the draft policies to support the implementation of the rate framework

ORHMA has been a key participant to ensure that the new premium rate setting model is reflective of our feedback and experience. Please see input from GTHA and ORHMA here. ORHMA will ensure further education for employers will continue to be provided. 

Ontario Food & Organic Waste
Earlier this year the government of Ontario invited ORHMA to participate in the stakeholder working group that will be providing advice on the development of food and organic waste framework. The government is committed to developing a food and organic waste framework that will consist of an action plan and a policy statement. This framework will be integral in supporting the implementation of the Climate Change Action Plan. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is working with the stakeholder working group in developing the framework. This group includes the representatives from municipalities, industry, commercial and institutional sector, NGOs, and academia. Within this context the government is driving new policies in waste diversion and the blue boxes program and has an objective to reach Zero Food Waste. There are severe implications to businesses and ORHMA will continue to be at the table.

Traumatic or Chronic Mental Stress- WSIB Policy

We have written in the past of the upcoming legislation coming into law on Jan 1, 2018. The WSIB has just gone through a consultation process in their development of writing a policy for this legislation which aims in determining if a worker is entitled to benefits for traumatic or chronic mental stress arising out and in the course of the worker’s employment. This is a very active process and much has been happening to be able to have the policy completed. See ORHMA’s response here. ORHMA is bringing this topic to our members ahead of its conclusion for readiness in the workplace.

There are significant differences between Traumatic Mental Stress and Chronic Mental Stress for employers to understand and ensure proper management practices are in place. Submission can be read here. While Traumatic Mental Stress (currently under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act -WSIA) involves work related events that are generally accepted as traumatic in nature such as impact from robberies and horrific experiences, Chronic Mental Stress involves work related events that are not traumatic in nature and includes such experiences as bullying, harassment, humiliation, demeaning conduct and intimidation by a supervisor. Chronic Mental Stress can result from one or a series of events and while the policy is being worked on we urge employers to ensure practices in place are followed and followed through and due diligence is a top of mind.  

List of Amendments Adopted by the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs
The Liberal majority Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs came up with a list of amendments that will be conveyed to the Ontario Legislature on Sept 11th. Employer concerns have not been answered and a call by the PC opposition members for an Impact Study has not been approved by the committee. Denying this request denies a fair policy and transparency with Bill 148 and hiding the conclusions not wanted to be seen. This is totally unacceptable. Overall there will be additional “red tape” for employers from a government that continues to praise achievements in deregulation. The only positive amendment worth noting for hospitality operators is that the scheduling amendment will include weather related exemptions. In this week’s committee meetings the NDP proposed further changes in eliminating the differential minimum wage for servers and increasing the paid sick days from two to five days. Both requests were not adopted. Click here to review the various amendments approved by the committee in this week’s meetings. 

Standing Committee Meets to Discuss Minimum Wage & Bill 148 Amendments 
During the week of August 21, the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs met to review the Employment Standards Act (ESA) & Labour Relations Act (LRA) amendments included in Bill 148 –The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. While business is anxiously anticipating relief from the constrains of the minimum wage increase and other Bill 148 proposals, the committee has made no major changes to the Liberal proposed legislation in the first round of reviewing the amendments . Here we have a difficult structure presented that challenges the current political process. We are dealing with a liberal majority government and in turn a liberal controlled committee. Bill 148 will move into second reading in September where the amendments will once again be in review. Offsets are expected for small businesses and it seems that the reduction will centre on taxes perhaps as reported eliminating the small business tax on the first $450K of income. ORHMA has analyzed the impact of various offsets and is very concerned that these are not enough to mitigate the mammoth payroll increases expected from the minimum wages hikes. See examples here. ORHMA has upcoming meetings with Minister of Small Business Jeff Leal and Premier Wynne where we will stress the freezing of the liquor server and student rates among our proposals. 

Independent Economic Impact Analysis on Bill 148 & Minimum Wage Increases Released

17,300 Jobs At Risk in Ontario’s Hospitality Industry

ORHMA continues to hear daily from our members on the negative impact that Bill 148, Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act, 2017 will have on their hospitality business. We are working hard to educate the provincial government on such impacts. The Premier and her Cabinet have denied our ongoing request for an economic impact study – ORHMA together with like minded business associations known as the Keep Ontario Working Coalition (KOW) commissioned and released the first and only independent economic impact analysis of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act, conducted by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA). The study revealed that if the legislation is implemented as currently drafted by the Wynne government, there will be significant, sudden and sizable uncertainty for Ontario jobs, economy and all communities.  Read more.  

Public Health Inspections Approach to Risk

There have been many inquiries from ORHMA’s members on the criteria Ontario’s public health units are following when conducting food premises inspections. The information provided in the “Risk Categorization of Food Premises Q & A” is issued by the Public Health Division of the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care and guides the local health units to the risk categorization model initiated in 2015. The “Risk Categorization” Toronto Public Health sample form is utilized by the various health inspectors in assessing the risk of the food premise. For your information a typical “Food Inspection Report” sample is provided.  

Federal Proposed Tax Changes on Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s)

The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) is looking to understand the impacts of the newly proposed tax changes on small hotel operators. As an ORHMA member, your hotel property is granted membership with the Hotel Association of Canada.

The proposed rules could have a significant impact on many Canadian hotel businesses: potentially raising taxes, increasing the administrative burden on SMEs and heightening the impact on family-run businesses.  A consultation is currently underway with a focus on how “tax-planning strategies involving corporations are being used to gain unfair tax advantages.” The document contains proposed policies to close these “loopholes.” Read more >>

ORHMA Asked to Submit Cost Offsets- Meeting with Premier Wynne

ORHMA has influenced Government to review a set of hospitality related expense recommendations to offset the potential minimum wage increase and has an upcoming meeting with Premier Wynne. In the presentation to the Standing Committee of Finance & Economic Affairs on July 21st,  ORHMA spoke of the potential damage of the upcoming minimum wage to Ontario’s hospitality business, the short time frame of implementation and compared Ontario’s pre-tax profit margin against a healthier Alberta and USA performance. Furthermore, ORHMA called for a freeze of the liquor server minimum wage as it will escalate the staff inequity concerns experienced in food and beverage operations. The presentation can be seen here.  ORHMA thanks its members who took the time from a busy season to send in performance data for our analysis. They continue to do so. We are still in the midst of concluding a menu of expense offsets where we are finding concerns that many recommendations will not greatly impact the mammoth labour cost increases driven by the potential $14 and $15 minimum wages. We need to ensure Premier Wynne and her Government deliver substantial and meaningful offsets. As always we welcome your input to

New and Longer Employment Insurance Benefits are Coming
Hicks Morley
Much anticipated legislative reforms to the Employment Insurance (EI) regime in Canada will extend parental and maternity EI benefits and expand access to critically ill children benefits. On June 22, 2017, Bill C-44 received Royal Assent. However, the EI Act amendments will come into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council, which will not be earlier than July 10, 2017. Based on previous statements made by the Department of Finance, it is expected that the changes will come into force before the end of 2017. To read more, click here.

Tarriff Rate Changes With SOCAN

The Copyright Board of Canada has recently certified new tariff rates for certain SOCAN tariffs. Some of these new rates are based on inflationary adjustments, which were approved for the first time in many years. As  a result, you may realize an overall license fee increase of approximately 7%. SOCAN’s tariffs take into consideration the value 

  that music adds to a business. To review the new rates certified by the Copyright Board of Canada, please see the list of affected tariffs.

2017 Best Bar None Awards sets new record of applicants competing for top honours for responsible service of alcohol 
On Tuesday June 27 and Thursday June 29, accredited establishments in Ottawa’s Byward Market and Toronto’s downtown core were recognized at the 2017 Best Bar None Awards Ceremony for their safe and responsible service of alcohol.  The establishments were selected by a judging panel comprising Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), and Best Bar None (BBN) Ontario, an industry-led international accreditation and awards program that rewards excellence amongst responsible liquor sales licensees. Read press releases for Best Bar None Ottawa and Best Bar None Toronto to view winners. 

Toronto Accommodations Sharing Economy Report

The Toronto Accommodations Sharing Economy report was released on June 12, 2017. ORHMA & GTHA (Greater Toronto Hotel Association) were successful in accomplishing positive outcomes. The report, stemming out of Municipal Licensing and Standards, outlines the following key highlights.Read more>>

Design For Sidewalk Cafes, Marketing Displays, Patio Fees & Consultations 

When the City of Toronto report went to Licensing and Standards Committee in April of this year MLS staff were directed to undertake additional consultations. Two meetings are scheduled for June.  This notice has been sent out by mail to all permit holders. The information that will be presented at these meetings will be the same as what was in the April 2017 city staff report. The City is reviewing permit fees, as well as the design for sidewalk cafés and marketing displays. This includes looking at the space required for walking and movement for persons with disabilities, and how this will impact existing café and marketing permit holders. Information presented at these consultations will build upon the recent "Framework for Harmonization" report that was considered by Committee.  Public input invited on guidelines, rules and fees for sidewalk cafés and displays in Toronto.  Read more >>

Government suspends anti-spam changes after receiving blowback from businesses and NGOs
New provisions of Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) that were set to come into effect on July 1st have been suspended due to complaints from businesses and non-governmental organizations. The provisions would allow lawsuits to be filed against individuals and organizations for violations of the legislation, a change that concerned businesses and non-profits due to the fact that over a three-year transition period that began in 2014, those organizations were permitted to rely on a recipient’s implied consent to receive electronic messages, while ostensibly giving them time to obtain express consent. Read more

Government's proposed amendment to WSIA re Chronic Mental Stress
In response to the Government of Ontario’s proposed amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA) to include coverage for work-related chronic mental stress, the WSIB has developed a proposed service delivery model and is seeking feedback on the supporting draft policy. To assist stakeholders to understand the WSIB’s proposed approach to implementing this proposed legislative change,a background document  has been developed.  

Ontario Releases Food & Organic Waste Discussion Paper
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is developing a Food and Organic Waste framework to reduce the volume of food and organic wastes ending up in the disposal stream. The province’s Climate Change Action Plan and the Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy commits the ministry to develop an action plan.  Read more >> 

City of Toronto Sharing Economy Report- Release Date
The anticipated report that will offer recommendations for a regulatory framework on the accommodations sharing economy will be released on June 12th and will be presented for discussion to the Executive Committee at the June 19th meeting. ORHMA and GTHA have been advocating on behalf of the hotel industry calling for a fair playing field. It is expected that the Toronto report will set the stage for other Ontario municipalities to move forward with similar regulatory rules. ORHMA has also been in communication with the City of London as a participant in upcoming consultations. 

Fighting the Beverage Alcohol Excise Tax Increases
ORHMA has joined an industry-wide coalition calling for a Repeal to the hidden escalating tax proposed in the 2017 federal budget. Alcoholic Beverages are made up of several layers of tariffs, levies and taxes as an easy grab for governments. Read more.  

Complete Your AODA Report on Compliance
This year all sectors – private, non-profit and public – must submit accessibility compliance reports by December 31, 2017.Learn more about requirements and who has to report at

Understanding WSIB’s Premium Rate Table
We previously reported that the Restaurant and Catering employers will see an 8.1% reduction (2016 rate of 1.72 will drop to 1.58 in 2017 ) while the Accommodation employers  rate will drop by 13.2% (2016 rate of 3.10 will drop to 2.69 in 2017 ). The following WSIB explanations offer a good understanding of how Premium Rates are calculated. Ontario’s hospitality sectors’ historic and projection rates follow. For additional information that includes all sector classifications click here. For more on WSIB, click here.