Employment Law

Ontario Science Centre closing immediately over structural concerns: Employee rights

A closed sign

The Ontario Science Centre is closing today due to an engineering report revealing the building’s roof is in danger of collapsing, multiple media outlets are reporting. The decision comes against the backdrop of Premier Doug Ford’s controversial decision to move the science museum to a new facility at Ontario Place.

The building, constructed with air-filled concrete similar to that used in over 100 now-closed British schools, is nearing the end of its lifespan.

Official Statements and Context

  • The engineering report highlights that while the building isn’t unsafe currently, the risk posed by rain or snow buildup could lead to a collapse soon.
  • An official from the Ministry of Infrastructure stated, “Any risk of collapse is too much risk,” emphasizing the urgency of the closure.
  • The Ontario Science Centre board decided to close the facility immediately after receiving the report this week.

Impact on Staff and Visitors

  • Approximately 250 workers, including 200 unionized OPSEU members, will be affected but will retain their jobs.
  • About 2,000 children scheduled for day camps will have relocated activities at nearby public schools, with parents receiving full refunds.
  • A wedding planned for Saturday has been moved to another provincially owned facility, with the bride and groom being refunded.
  • Over 50 food service workers will be laid off, according to OPSEU.

Background and Future Plans

The building’s deteriorating condition was worse than the government estimated last November. An Ernst & Young report, dated March 8, 2023, and revealed in November, indicated it would cost $600 million more to refurbish the existing science centre than to construct a new one at Ontario Place.

The report described the current building as “not sustainable under status quo conditions” and in “operational crisis” due to mounting critical maintenance costs.

Industry and Public Reaction

The abrupt closure of the Ontario Science Centre, an iconic tourist attraction, has sparked reactions from various stakeholders. The broader industry faces challenges as aging infrastructure in public facilities requires significant investment to ensure safety and sustainability.

Pocket Employment Lawyer

Questions about your employment rights? Use our interactive tool to find out what your options are.

Get Answers Now

Severance rights for impacted Ontario Science Centre employees

If you’re a non-unionized employee at the Ontario Science Centre, and you end up losing your job as a result of the closure, you are entitled to a full severance package. This rule applies to all non-unionized employees in Ontario, Alberta, and B.C., whether you work full-time, part-time, or on an hourly basis.

Generally, when a facility or company closes (but does not declare bankruptcy), the employer still owes their employees full severance pay.

• Severance Pay in Ontario
• Alberta severance packages
• Understanding severance in B.C.

Individuals working “on contract” or as a contractor may also be owed severance pay — given that many employees in Canada are often misclassified as independent contractors.

Temporary layoffs

Temporary layoffs occur when an employer significantly reduces or completely stops an employee’s work. There is usually a mutual understanding from both sides that the employee will be called back to work, to the same position, after a reasonable period of time.

• Changes to your job in Ontario

However, it’s important to understand that temporary layoffs are considered illegal, unless you agree to the layoff or it’s addressed in your employment contract.

You may be able to treat this layoff as a termination through a constructive dismissal and pursue full severance, rather than wait to potentially be called back to work.

Calculating your severance pay

Your severance package is based on several factors. These include your length of service at the company, age, position and responsibilities, any bonuses or benefits you receive, and how difficult it is to find new employment.

The amount of notice you receive, or how far in advance your employer tells you about your termination, is also a key factor in understanding how much money you should receive.

Severance can be as much as 24 months’ pay. It’s essential to note that the specific amount can also vary based on the terms of your employment contract.

WATCH: Employment lawyer Lior Samfiru explains what rights employees have if they are being fired or let go on an episode of the Employment Law Show.

Don’t sign on the dotted line!

Before you accept any severance offer, double-check the amount using our firm’s free Severance Pay Calculator. It has helped millions of Canadians determine their entitlements.

In addition to your salary, make sure to factor in any other elements of your compensation (i.e. bonuses, commission, etc.).

If your employer doesn’t provide you with the correct amount, it’s very likely that you have been wrongfully dismissed, and should contact an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLPDo not sign any deadline offer from your employer until you have spoken to our team. Once you sign back the offer, you lose your right to negotiate a fair package.

Non-unionized employees in Canada have up to two years from the date of their dismissal to pursue proper severance pay.

Severance for provincially regulated employees
Rights to severance for tech sector staff
• Severance packages during mass layoffs

Talk to an employment lawyer

Lost your job? Contact our team immediately.

The knowledgeable team of employment lawyers at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP has secured proper compensation for tens of thousands of non-unionized individuals across the country.

In addition to severance package negotiations, our lawyers have experience securing solutions for the following legal matters:


If you are a non-unionized employee in Ontario, Alberta, or B.C. who needs help with an employment issue, contact us or call 1-855-821-5900 to get the advice you need, and the compensation you deserve.

Get What You're Owed

Our employment lawyers are ready to help you solve your workplace issues.

Get Help Now

Disclaimer: The materials above are provided as general information about the rights of non-unionized employees in Canada. It is not specific to any one company and should not be read as suggesting any improper conduct on the part of any specific employer.

Advice You Need. Compensation You Deserve.

Consult with Samfiru Tumarkin LLP. We are one of Canada's most experienced and trusted employment, labour and disability law firms. Take advantage of our years of experience and success in the courtroom and at the negotiating table.

Get help now