Business Laws & Regulations
Whether you're starting a business or taking over one, it's important to know the rules and regulations governing commercial enterprises in Ontario.
The first step is to decide if your business is a solely owned venture, a partnership or a corporation and then register it with the government of Ontario. Registration involves payment of a fee that varies according to the type of business.
Once the business is registered, you can apply for the following:
- Ontario Retail Sales Tax Vendor's Permit
- Ontario Employer Health Tax
- Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB)
- Business Number (includes the Harmonized Sales Tax, corporation income tax, payroll deductions and import/export)
Owners of Ontario businesses must report accidents, diseases and exposure to infectious diseases through certain injuries. Most businesses are required to register with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Some exceptions are banks, trade unions, private daycares, travel agencies, and photographers.
Note: You can apply online to register a business, obtain a Business Number, WSIB, Retail Sales Tax Vendor's Permit and other accounts and programs at the same time.
Some of the other business operations that are regulated in Ontario:
- Health and Safety: Business owners have an obligation to sure the health and safety of their employees and to comply with regulations and standards governing the safety of the workplace.
- Privacy: If you collect, use or disclose information about individuals, you must understand privacy policies and procedures.
- Hiring: You must ensure that your company's hiring and interviewing practices are not discriminatory and follow Ontario regulations governing minimum wages, labour standards, employment equity, maternity and parental leave.
- Advertising, promotion and packaging: Ontario law requires businesses to be accurate and truthful when promoting or advertising their product. Companies can only advertise drug and health products that have been approved for sale in Canada. Food labelling and packaging are also subject to regulation.
- Accessibility: Every business and organization in Ontario that provides goods and services to the public must comply with the Customer Service Standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Businesses involved in the importing and exporting of goods and e-businesses that sell to jurisdictions outside of Ontario are also subject to government regulations. Alcohol and tobacco are other products that are highly regulated in Ontario.
For More Information
Information on the Canada Labour Code and how it applies to employers and employees. Workplace health and safety, hours of work, vacations, minimum wage, layoff procedures, and the rights and obligations of workers, employers and union members are defined under Canadian labour laws.
Information for businesses about the Kingston labour market, available properties, support services, programs and resources.
Information about the laws and regulations governing large and small businesses in Ontario: registering a business, legal forms of business, workplace insurance, and municipal zoning and licensing.
How to register or incorporate a business, business laws and regulations, how to get government advice, financing a business, workplace rights and an online information service for businesses just starting up.
Information about Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) programs, premiums, policies, resources, partners, and employer obligations.
Regulations governing importing, exporting, marketing, managing employees and transporting goods.
How to incorporate a business in Ontario online, in person or by mail. Includes a form that can be downloaded.
How to register a new business online and apply for Retail Sales Tax, Employer Health Tax and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board at the same time. Includes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
Canada Revenue Agency one-stop online, self-service application for business owners to register for four program accounts and a Business Number.
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety information about products and services that promote workplace health and safety.
The Employment Standards Act sets out the minimum standards that employers and employees must follow to ensure fairness in the workplace. Includes a “Know your rights” video, which is available in English, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, and Urdu. Information is also available on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
The Tobacco Act sets out the regulations governing the sale of tobacco products in Ontario, including the place, manner, form and content of signs in retail outlets.
A large resource of general legal information for Ontarians, compiled from hundreds of organizations across Ontario. While the site itself is only available in English, materials are available in multiple languages, including French. Managed by Community Legal Education Ontario.
A series of podcasts on employment standards and health and safety. A wide variety of topics is covered, including deductions from wages, overtime, filing an employment standards claim, heat stress, farming safety, infection prevention, etc.
Work permit information for businesses wishing to recruit and hire foreign workers. Includes information and links on both the General Category (including a video) and the International Student With Job Offer streams for employers and those seeking nomination as a foreign worker. Also lists the process and documents required of both employer and employee, and how employees may extend their stay in Ontario.
Job and worker categories for those who do not require a labour market opinion (LMO) in order to obtain a work permit. Categories include: entrepreneurs and intra-company transferees, workers nominated by the province or covered by international agreements, certain international students, spouses and common-law partners eligible for a work permit through an active pilot project or of international full-time students, and more.
An Ontario Ministry of Labour video explaining when employers can make deductions from wages and when such deductions are illegal. In Ontario, employers can make deductions only in very specific circumstances, but as a rule cannot make deductions from an employee’s wages. Available in Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, and Urdu.
A guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and regulations, providing information and examples about important sections of the ESA. A wide range of employment standards and requirements are addressed and explained.
Ontario Ministry of Labour quick reference online tool to help employers and employees determine how the Employment Standards Act (ESA) applies to their circumstances.
Information on workers rights in Ontario as protected by the Employment Standards Act, the Pay Equity Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Labour Relations Act. In addition to English and French, downloadable factsheets are also available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Croatian, Dari, Farsi, Greek, Gujarati, Italian, Korean, Oji-Cree, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
Details on how to file an employment standards claim. Includes step-by-step guides, factsheets, a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and contact information. Also includes a video that is available in Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, and Urdu.