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2009

"Intensive Collective Bargaining Workshop" to be held in Whistler

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

Vancouver based company, pre-think Inc., in co-operation with the Business Council of BC will be conducting a four day Intensive Collective Bargaining Workshop in Whistler from May 31 to June 3, 2009. The principals of pre-think Inc. are Gary Moser and Neil Patton.

The conference is being held at the Delta Whistler Village Suites in Whistler. The cost is $2,995 plus GST (hotel, all meals and materials), with an early bird special available until April 3, 2009.

Who should attend? The advetisments say chief negotiators, HR/LR professionals, managers and anyone in collective bargaining.

BC Maritime Employers Association and Int'l Longshoremen and Warehouse Union Local 514 ratify collective agreement

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal
Sector: - Transportation

The BC Maritime Employers Association and the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union Local 514 have ratified a new collective agreement, according to a story in today's Globe and Mail.

The dispute involved 450 ship and dock foremen who had been without a contract since March 2007. Local 514 had set a strike date of January 2, 2009, but had stayed on the job as negotiations continued.

The agreement was reached on February 13, 2009 with the assistance of two conciliation officers appointed from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service pursuant to section 72 of the Canada Labour Code.

The Union held its ratification vote on February 24, 2009 and accepted mail-in ballots until March 5, 2009.  read more »

Wage Earner Protection Program expanded to include severance and termination pay

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

In a post in July 2008, I outlined the federal government's new "Wage Earner Protection Program" (WEPP"). The WEPP coverage has now been expanded to include severance and termination pay for employees whose employer went bankrupt or entered into receivership on, or after, January 27, 2009. Read more here.

Federal government reviewing compensation packages of bank employees

The Globe and Mail reports today that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), Canada's banking regulator, is in the process of reviewing whether the compensation packages of bank employees need to be more tightly regulated.

The article states that OFSI is working with other jurisdictions on this issue through the Financial Stability Forum. The Forum is scheduled to issue recommendations on bank employees compensation prior to the April 2, 2009 G20 meeting in London.

OFSI's superintendent, Julie Dickson, states that her concern is more about the manner in which bank employee's pay is structured, than the amount they are paid. The scope of the review is also focused lower on the banks' organizational charts than the regulatory generally looks, including at employees who are orginating business.

Employer must pay damages to employee for "false imprisonment" during theft investigation

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Retail Trade

In Kalsi v. Greater Vancouver Associate Stores Ltd. 2009 BCSC 287, the BC Supreme Court awarded a fired employee $6,500 in damages for "false imprisonment" during the employer's theft investigation.

Mr. Kalsi had been employed as a mechanic by a Canadian Tire store for 16 years. He was 36 years old and off work on disability at the time the incident occurred.

Specifically, he was accused by the store's security officer of attending to the store on May 20, 2005 and stealing a light bulb for his vehicle.

After confronting Mr. Kalsi, the security officer told Mr. Kalsi to follow him up to the lunchroom. It was Mr. Kalsi's evidence that, once in the lunchroom:  read more »

Update on BC's Minimum Wage

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

As I noted in my previous post, BC's general minimum wage is currently $8 per hour and was last adjusted in November 2001.

The BC Federation of Labour has been calling on the BC Government to eliminate the training wage ($6) and immediately increase BC's minimum wage to at least $10 per hour and index future increases to growth in inflation.

The BC NDP Party has also been calling for the minimum wage to be increased to $10 with future increases being indexed to the cost of living.

The Fraser Institute sees things differently. According to a January 2009 article, their number crunching concludes that an increase in BC's minimum wage to $10 per hour would result in job losses ranging from 11,000 jobs to 52,000 jobs for workers aged 15 to 24.

In light of a February 9, 2009 website update from the BC Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services, the current minimum wage debate in BC may be somewhat overblown given the workforce realities:  read more »

Alberta's Minimum Wage to Increase on Apri 1, 2009

The Alberta government announced yesterday that the minimum wage in that province will increase to $8.80 effective April 1, 2009.

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, this will move Alberta into second place, at least temporarily, after Ontario.

Ontario's "General Minimum Wage" is currently $8.75, but it will increase to $9.50 effective March 31, 2009. One year later it will increase again to $10.25.

The article further notes that Alberta's minimum wage will soon be surpassed by Saskatchewan's (which increases to $9.25 on May 1, 2009), Quebec's (which increases to $9 on May 1, 2009) and Newfoundland's (which increases to $9 on July 1, 2009).

New Brunswick announced in Janaury 2009 that its minimum wage will increase from $7.75 to $8 effective April 15, 2009 and then to $8.25 on September 1, 2009

After that, British Columbia and PEI will be at the bottom at $8 an hour.

BC last increased its minimum wage on November 1, 2001.

Two new section 251 referrals to the chair of BC Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal

Topics: - BC WCAT
Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

Section 251 of the BC Workers Compensation Act states that the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal ("WCAT") may refuse to apply an applicable policy of the board of directors only if the policy is so patently unreasonable that it is not capable of being supported by the Act and its regulations.

According to an update posted today on the WCAT website, two new section 251 referrals have been forwarded to the chair. The new referrals are with respect to Item #D12-196-6 of the Prevention Manual on Administrative Penalties – Amount of Penalty.

Read more here.

Jill M. Callan's appointment as chair of BC Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal extended

Topics: - Appointments - BC WCAT
Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

By Order in Council dated March 3, 2009, Jill M. Callan's appointment as of chair of the BC Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal was extended until March 3, 2014.

Ms. Callan was appointed chair of WCAT when it came into existence on March 3, 2003. You can read Ms. Callan's bio here.

"Recession: Is it Time to Reconsider Your Collective Agreement?"

John-Edward Hyde, a lawyer at Blaney McMurtry LLP, has written an article titled, "Recession: Is it Time to Reconsider Your Collective Agreement?"

The article was originally published in Employment Notes (February 2009). which is a publication of the Labour and Employment Law Group of Blaney McMurtury.

Calculating the Short-term Average Earnings of Workers Participating in Non-WorkSafeBC Return to Work Programs

Topics: - WorkSafeBC
Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

Effective March 1, 2009, there is a new WorksafeBC policy regarding "Calculating the Short-term Average Earnings of Workers Participating in Non-WorkSafeBC Return to Work Programs". According to WorksafeBC:

Under the new policy, insurance payments may be considered earnings in the calculation of the short-term average earnings of a worker who participates in a non-WorkSafeBC Return to Work program and subsequently sustains a work-related injury, provided that payment relates to the work being performed.

You can read the WorksafeBC Update here.

Labour and employment matters top companies legal concerns for year ahead

The Globe and Mail did a piece today on the impact that the recession is having on labour and employer lawyers. In a nutshell, business has picked up for the Toronto based lawyers interveiwed for the article.

Of particular interest, the article noted that a national survey recently released by Fasken Martineau revealed that:

  • "40 per cent of companies with more than 50 employees were involved in litigation last year, most commonly for labour and employment or contracts"; and
  • "labour and employment topped their lists of legal concerns for the year ahead."

You can read the article here.

Use of professional corporation did not result in employee becoming independent contractor

Jurisdiction: - Alberta

Therrien v. True North Properties Ltd., 2009 ABCA 44, upholding 2007 ABQB 312

New Vice Chairperson appointed to Canada Industrial Relations Board

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

The federal Minister of Labour announced the appointment today of Mr. William G. McMurray as Vice-Chairperson of the Canada Industrial Relations Board. The appointment is effective March 31, 2009.

Mr. McMurray has been a practitioner of administrative law, specializing in labour and employment law. He has acted as counsel for some of Canada's largest employers in the federal transportation and telecommunications sectors.

You can read the full media release here.

BC Budget contains unemployment forecasts for 2009

Topics: - Workforce Trends
Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The BC Government released its Budget and Fiscal Plan for 2009/10 - 2011/12 today. The following statistics and forecasts will be of interest to the labour and employment community:  read more »

Temporary foreign workers still needed for certain occupations

An article in today's Vancouver Sun reported that despite the downturn in the economy and rising unemployment, some sectors are still looking for temporary foreign workers to fill certain occupations. Two occupations mentioned by name in the article were community care workers in northern BC and Alberta, as well as room attendants.

Notice period reduced by six months for failure to mitigate

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

The plaintiff was 63 years old and had been employed by the defendant for 38 years as a bench jeweller/goldsmith. He worked full-time and earned $26.50/hour, or just over $58,000 annually. His employment was terminated as a result of the business being sold.

The court found that the plaintiff was entitled to a notice period of 18 months, but that it should be reduced by six months because he had failed to mitigate his damages.

On the mitigation issue, the totality of the plaintiff's evidence was that he had: (1) personally delivered his resume to eight possible employers who were chosen because he had some familiarity with them, and (2) spoken to individuals at one company regarding opportunities for jewelers.

The defendant, in contrast, produced two affidavits that suggested that there were similar employment opportunities available that the plaintiff had not pursued.  read more »

BCTF to seek leave to Supreme Court of Canada on "political protests" case

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Education

It was reported in an article in today's Vancouver Sun that the BC Teachers Federation will seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada on the "political protests" case.

The BC Court of Appeal dismissed their (and the Hospital Employees Union's) appeal in a decision handed down on February 4, 2009.