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Category: Resources

An on-line resource for small businesses in Ontario

Pensions and Retirement Savings

Pensions and other retirement savings plans are not required in Ontario, but if employers do provide them, most plans must be registered with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).  Pension plans are heavily regulated.  Legislation and issues around retirement savings plans are complex, and beyond the scope of this site.  The following provides some basic information, and useful links to help you do the research necessary before deciding on a retirement savings option.

Managing and administering your plans can be outsourced, and some of the links below refer to companies that will do this for you.

Pension Plans:

There are two types of registered pension plan: Defined Benefit, and Defined Contribution. 

In a Defined Benefit Pension Plan, the employer commits to providing a pension of a defined amount, based on a formula (typically employee’s age and length of service at retirement).  

In a Defined Contribution plan, the employee and/or the employer make regular contributions to the employee’s pension plan, and the employee decides how to invest the money within the options available in the plan.  At retirement the employee can use the funds to purchase a retirement plan (annuity, LIRA, etc.).

For the self-employed, or employees without a company pension plan, a pooled registered pension plan (PRPP) may be an option.

Deferred Profit Sharing Plans (DPSP’s):

In a DPSP, the company contributes to a plan on the employee’s behalf.  Plans must be registered with the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA). 

Group Registered Retirement Savings Plans (GRRSP):

Employers may set up GRRSP’s on behalf of employees. Contributions made by payroll deduction are made on a pre-tax basis. GRRSP’s do not have to be registered with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). 

Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA):

Tax Free Savings Accounts allow Canadians to earn tax-free investment income, and contributions are not tax-deductible.  Employers may set up company plans, and make matching contributions.   Contributions made by payroll deduction are made on a pre-tax basis.

USEFUL LINKS: (for information purposes only: I do not endorse any organization)

Canada Revenue Agency PRPP information:

The Benefits Alliance Group – independent member firms across Canada (my thanks to Gary Winch, of The Winch Group, Burlington, Ontario for this information):

AON Benefits Consultants:

Hay Group Benefits Consulting:

Mercer Investment and Retirement Consulting:

AON Willis Towers Watson Benefits Consulting:

Greenshield Canada:


Sun Life:


Canadian employers are required to establish a Payroll Account with The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).   A payroll account can be added to an existing business number (BN). 

Employers are responsible for ensuring that the people they hire are eligible to work in Canada.  This is accomplished by obtaining the employee’s Social Insurance Number (SIN) and keeping it on file.  The employee must show you his/her SIN card or letter. If the SIN number begins with a “9” you are also required to confirm that the employee is authorized to work in Canada and has a valid immigration document.

Employers are required to remit legislated payroll deductions and employer contributions to CRA by the due date, or there may be a penalty.  Unless other arrangements exist, remittances are to be made by the 15th of the month following that in which they were taken.  Legislated remittances include:

  • Income Tax
  • Tax on taxable benefits and other taxable amounts
  • Canada Pension
  • Employment Insurance

Employers must provide each employee with a Statement of Earnings for each pay period.

Employers must report employees’ annual income on a T4 or T4A slip, and file an information return on or before the last day of February of the following year.

Paper and electronic payroll records must be kept for a minimum of six years.

Payroll processing can be outsourced: for example, both ADP Canada and Ceridian Canada provide services for small business: ADP Canada defines a small business as one with 1 – 49 employees.

USEFUL LINKS: (provided for information only: I do not endorse any organization)

Canada Revenue Agency Payroll Information:

Federal Government Payroll Deductions On-Line Calculator:

Canada Revenue Agency Payroll Guide:

ADP Canada:

Ceridian Canada:

Pay Equity

A provincially-regulated business that employs ten (10) or more employees in Ontario is required to comply with Ontario’s Pay Equity Act. Pay Equity legislation is designed to “redress systemic gender discrimination in compensation for work performed by employees in female job classes.”  Pay Equity goes above “equal pay for equal work” and requires “equal pay for work of equal value.”   This means evaluating the work of jobs held primarily by females, and those held predominantly by males.  The jobs are to be compared on the basis of:

·         skill,

·       effort

·       responsibility

·       working conditions

There are also guidelines for assessing female-dominated jobs where there are no comparable male-dominated jobs in the company.

If a male-dominated comparator job pays more than a female-dominated job of the same value, a plan must be in place to raise the salaries of those in the female-dominated job to at least the same level.  The Pay Equity Plan must be posted in the workplace.

Generally, the method of comparing jobs is left to the employer.  There are a number of companies that provide job-evaluation methods (Hay, Mercer, and Towers-Watson to name three), and the Ontario government provides a useful Interactive Job Comparison Tool for small business employers.  Doing it oneself is also possible, but would require developing and validating a job analysis tool.

USEFUL LINKS: (provided for information only: I do not endorse any organization)

Pay Equity Commission:

Pay Equity Act:

Ontario Interactive job Comparison Tool:

Hay Job Evaluation:

Mercer International Position Evaluation System:

AON Willlis Towers Watson Global Grading System:

Orientation and Onboarding (The New Employee)

Orientation and Onboarding refer to the process of getting the employee in position and up to speed.  The first few weeks on a new job are crucial: as managers evaluate the employee’s fit for the organization, and as the employee assesses the company’s fit with his/her expectations.  The more that is done to make the person feel comfortable during this period, the more likely that there will be a happy, committed hire.

Prior to the new person joining the organization, let the team know that person’s name and start date.  On the first day, take the new employee around, explain the layout, and introduce the rest of the team.  Assign someone to show the new person the ropes, and make sure (s)he is included in group activities such as lunch and breaks.

Plan the first week’s work: make sure the new person knows what to expect.  Assign a mentor who can answer questions and resolve problems for the first few weeks.

Be available and keep in touch with the mentor and the new employee.

Occupational Health and Safety

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to maintain a safe workplace, provide the necessary training (including First Aid training), safety equipment and clothing, appoint competent supervisors, and develop a health and safety policy.  

Depending on the size of the organization, the Act may require a Health and Safety Representative, or a Joint Health and Safety Committee.

Copies of the Act and a safety poster must be displayed in the workplace.

Workers have the right to be involved in ensuring a safe workplace, and they have the right to refuse unsafe work. 


Occupational Health and Safety Act:

Managing Others

Managing others doesn’t come easily to everyone.

There is an adage that people don’t leave companies: they leave managers.  The opposite is just as true: a good manager can keep a team motivated and engaged through the most difficult times.

Managing in the 21st century is about motivating, engaging, coaching and developing others in a fast-paced and increasingly diverse workplace.   The technical skills that get one to the top of a trade and the entrepreneurial skills that help one develop a business are not the skills required to manage others. 

Today’s leaders are expected to be both managers and coaches.  Managers focus on the “what” and the “how” while coaches focus on the “who.”  Leadership is about getting the best out of others.  It is also about attracting, motivating, and retaining good people. 

There are many organizations that provide coaching and training for managers, and, while I do not endorse any organization, I have provided below a few with which I am familiar:

The Canadian Management Centre (CMC), an affiliate of AMA International, provides leadership training through traditional classroom settings, web-based training, and e-learning.  They also provide free information on their website under the “Free Resources” tab.  Contact them at: 


The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is a global training organization, based in Greensboro N.C.  While their North American locations are solely based in the United States, they are affiliated with the Niagara Institute in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  The Niagara Institute is licenced to offer CCL leadership programs.  Contact them at:


Niagara Institute:

Franklin Covey Canada offers both corporate and public training across Canada, including The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and The Seven Habits for Managers.  Contact them at:

Franklin Covey Canada:

Owen Stewart Performance Resources, based in Port Perry, Ontario, provides training videos of all kinds, including the very popular Fish! series.  Many videos can be previewed on-line, and rentals generally include leaders’ guides.  Contact them at:

Human Rights

The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination and harassment in employment on the basis of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.  Discrimination can be direct, or systemic.  Systemic discrimination occurs when a rule or requirement that seems to be fair to all, inadvertently excludes someone in a designated group.  For example, the requirement for all police officers to wear standard head-gear created an environment that excluded some people from working as police officers, because their religion requires them to wear specific headgear; and requiring Canadian experience discriminates against new Canadians.

There is an exclusion for “bona fide occupational requirements” which are requirements without which an employee would not be able to fulfill the essential functions of the job.  The onus is on the employer to demonstrate that such bona fide requirements exist.  A person can perform all the essential functions of a police officer without wearing the standard uniform hat, so that is not a bona fide occupational requirement.  On the other hand, the need for a construction worker to be able to lift and carry a certain weight may be. 

Employers are required to make all reasonable accommodation to help the individual meet the job requirements.  Such accommodation might include providing special equipment for someone with a disability, or rearranging shifts to allow employees to celebrate non-traditional religious holidays.  Funding for special equipment may be available through the Ontario Disability Support Program.

An employee who believes that (s)he has been discriminated against or harassed on the basis of one of the forbidden categories may file a Human Rights complaint.  If the employer is found to have discriminated against the employee, there will be financial penalties, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission may order the employer to reinstate the employee.

Ontario has also included protection from Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment in its Workplace Health and Safety legislation.


Useful Links:

Ontario Human Rights Code:

Ontario Human Rights Commission:

Ontario Disability Support Program:

Human Resource Information System (HRIS)

HRIS stands for Human Resource Information System.  A good HRIS program will allow you to store all information about each employee, and to retrieve and manipulate the information to meet your needs.   A cost-effective, but time-consuming, way to do this is through a data base program that exports data to a spreadsheet.  To ensure compliance with privacy legislation, any such system should be maintained on a secure computer or server.

Commercially-available HRIS programs have reporting functions built in.  Users of ADP or Ceridian payroll processing services might consider their HR programs.  As a business grows, some of the other available services may also be of interest (e.g. performance management, succession management).

Providers of integrated ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, like SAP, and Oracle, also include an HRIS component that integrates with other platforms to support the business. 

USEFUL LINKS: (for information purposes only: I do not endorse any of these organizations)

Simple HR: 

ADP Canada:

Ceridian Canada:

Success Factors:

SAP Canada:

Oracle Canada:

Employment Equity

While provincially-regulated businesses are not covered by the federal Employment Equity Act, they may be covered by the Federal Contractors’ Program, which states that “organizations that have 100 or more employees and want to bid on a federal government contract or standing offer of $1 million or more must first sign a Certificate of Commitment to implement employment equity.”  

The federal Employment Equity Act requires employers to conduct a workforce analysis and to develop plans to improve their hiring, retention, and promotion of people from four designated groups that are traditionally under-represented in the workforce.  The groups are: Women, Aboriginal Canadians, Visible Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities.

 For details, refer to the website provided by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: 


Federal Contractors’ Program:

Employee Assistance Plans

 EAP benefits are becoming more prevalent, and are valuable in helping employees work through problems at home or at work. Typically, the employer pays the full premium, which is calculated on a per-person per-month basis.

Services covered by an EAP may include:

  • legal assistance
  • financial advice
  • child-care and elder-care referrals
  • referrals to paramedical professionals
  • initial consultation with a professional

USEFUL LINKS: (for information only: I do  not endorse any of these services):

Sheppell Canada:

Ceridian Canada:

 Sun Life EAP:

Contents © Human Resources by Pam Urie
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