OHL Will Not Have To Pay Players

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Ontario is excluding the OHL's 425 players from employment legislation, which prevents them from becoming workers regulated by the Employment Standards Act. 

The players will maintain their status as amateur athletes -- meaning the 16 to 20 year olds will not be paid a wage or salary. 

"Hockey is central to so many childhoods, so many great family moments, part of all our communities," Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. "Our government is proud to take action and cut red tape to provide clarity and help make sure the OHL is able to continue training players and showcase this great sport."

The government adds the move protects "the long term sustainability of local junior hockey teams." 

The league had argued if the players were paid the minimum wage, it would have cost the Ontario Hockey League about $8 million a year. 

Junior players are currently eligible for post-secondary school scholarships, with each season spent in the league being worth one year of tuition, books and compulsory fees. Players also get money for out-of-pocket expenses, equipment, billeting and travel costs while on a CHL roster.

Ontario said players will also still be protected by legislation, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

"I want to thank the government for its leadership in ensuring that our 17 Ontario teams can continue to be leaders in the community and contribute to the economic development of the communities in which we play," said OHL commissioner David Branch, who also serves as CHL president. "This also allows our teams to continue to focus on our most important role, and that is providing our 425 players with the best on and off-ice experience, the hallmark of which is our scholarship program."

The Canadian Hockey League -- the parent organization of the OHL, along with the Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League -- is currently embroiled in an $180-million class-action lawsuit, filed in 2014 by Toronto-based Charney Lawyers. The suit on behalf of all current and many former players seeks outstanding wages, overtime pay, holiday pay and vacation pay.

The OHL appealed the certification and is expected to be heard in court on Jan. 29.

-- With files from The Canadian Press