Skip to Content

2017

Gender identity / expression to be added as ground of protection under Canadian Human Rights Act

Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal
Sector: - All

The federal government voted on on June 15, 2017 to add gender identity or expression as a prohibited ground of protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act, which applies to federally regulated organizations in Canada.

One it receives Royal Assent, Bill C-16 - also known as the Transgender Rights Bill - will also add gender expression or identity to the Canadian Criminal Code provisions dealing with hate propaganda, incitement to genocide, and aggravating factors in sentencing.

In the House of Commons debate on the legislation Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said:

Bill C-16 reflects our commitment to this diversity and provides for equality and freedom from discrimination and violence for all Canadians, regardless of their gender identity. With the bill, we say loudly and clearly that it is time to move beyond mere tolerance of trans people. It is time for their full acceptance and inclusion in Canadian society.

She then went on to say:  read more »

SCC: cocaine addicted employee involved in workplace accident dismissed for breach of policy, not drug use

Jurisdiction: - Alberta - All
Sector: - Mining

In a decision issued today - Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp., 2017 SCC 30 - the Supreme Court of Canada tackled the difficult issue of when and on what basis an employer can dismiss an employee addicted to drugs.  

Facts

As set out by the SCC, these are the facts:

[1]   Ian Stewart worked in a mine operated by the Elk Valley Coal Corporation, driving a loader.  The mine operations were dangerous, and maintaining a safe worksite was a matter of great importance to the employer and employees  read more »

16 reasons why Alberta trade unions are celebrating the Fair And Family-Friendly Workplaces Act

Topics: - Top 10 Lists
Jurisdiction: - Alberta

Alberta tabled the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act on May 24, 2017. See my post on this proposed legislation here: "Recap of changes proposed by Alberta to modernize workplace legislation".

A lawyer at McLennan Ross LLP in Edmonton, Hugh J.D. McPhail, Q.C., has written an article listing out "16 Reasons Why Alberta Trade Unions Are Celebrating The Fair And Family-Friendly Workplaces Act."

In his words, these are the 16 reasons why unions are celebrating this bill:   read more »

City of Vancouver now a certified Living Wage employer

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia

This is the City of Vancouver's June 8, 2017 news post on its website:

The City, Park Board, and Vancouver Police Department have taken steps to reduce inequality by becoming living wage employers, certified by the Living Wage for Families Campaign External website (LWFC), a Vancouver-based organization that has certified a range of employers.

Our living wage certification includes the City of Vancouver and Park Board staff and vendors.

The Vancouver Police Department submitted a separate application that was also approved at the same time.

The City of Vancouver joins several local governments in BC who have successfully implemented living wage policies:  read more »

Ontario employer jailed, fined for failure to obey order to pay $140,000 in wages

Jurisdiction: - Ontario
Sector: - Education

This is the Ontario Ministry of Labour's June 6, 2017 Court Bulletin:

MISSISSAUGA, ON - An employer who operated a Brampton business known as Academic Montessori and a summer camp in Mississauga and failed to pay his workers - many of them university students - has been convicted after a trial.

The conviction of Peter David Sinisa Sesek, imposed in Mississauga court, was for failure to comply with an order to pay issued by a Ministry of Labour employment standards officer. A sentence of 30 days in jail and a fine of $20,000 was imposed by Justice of the Peace Hilda Weiss on June 6, 2017.

The order to pay, issued March 31, 2015, amounts to about $140,000 and is owed to 43 claimants.

The businesses, which are no longer in operation, were known as Academic Montessori and WISE (Wonderful Interactive Summer Experience) Summer Camp.  read more »

Largest WCB benefits fraud in Saskatchewan history nets man 2.5 year prison sentence

Jurisdiction: - Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board posted this on its website on May 18, 2017:

A former labourer was sentenced today in Melfort at the Court of Queen's Bench to two and a half years in jail for defrauding the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board (WCB).

The former claimant was found guilty of filing two false claims, in addition to returning to work while in receipt of benefits. The WCB received a restitution order for the full amount of the fraud of $137,377. 76.

A May 23, 2017 story in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix ("Jail time for man convicted of defrauding Sask. Workers' Compensation Board of $137,377", Bre McAdam) identified the man as Larry Hayter and had WCB spokeswoman, Heather Getz, confirming that it is the largest WCB benefits fraud Saskatchewan has ever seen.

Recap of changes proposed by Alberta to modernize workplace legislation

Jurisdiction: - Alberta
Sector: - All

Set out below are some of the key changes that will be made to Alberta's Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code if Bill 17 - the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act, is passed.

The bill was introduced by the Alberta government on May 24, 2017, one day after Ontario released the final report in its "Changing Workplaces Review" which proposes amendments to Ontario's Employment Standards Act, 2000 and Labour Relations Act, 1995.

The proposed changes to Alberta's legislation are, according to the government, the result of previous government reviews as well as broad consultations with Albertans, employers, business organizations, labour organizations, municipalities, academics, and advocacy groups. The government states that more than 7,000 submissions were received. Alberta's Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code were both last updated in 1988.

In introducing the changes, the Alberta Minister of Labour, Christina Gray, stated:  read more »

Employee failed to mitigate by retraining rather than apply for comparable roles available at former employer

Jurisdiction: - Ontario
Sector: - Manufacturing

In Benjamin v Cascades Canada ULC, 2017 ONSC 2583, a decision issued on April 27, 2017, the Superior Court of Justice - Ontario found that the plainitff former employee, Benjamin, failed to reasonably mitigate his damages by choosing to retrain rather than apply for the comparable positions available to him at his former employer, Cascades.

Specifically, the court stated:

[161]      It is not contested that there were comparable jobs available for Benjamin to seek at Cascades, given the comparable remuneration and his work experience as an unskilled general labourer. It is not contested that Benjamin "could have" procured any of the three available comparable positions.  read more »

Medical marijuana grower, Aurora Cannabis, will fund employee's legal case for insurance coverage

Topics: - Benefits
Jurisdiction: - Nova Scotia
Sector: - Health Care

On February 2, 2017 I posted that a Nova Scotia human rights board had ruled that an employee's medical marijuana must be covered by a workplace insurance plan. You can find the post and the human rights board's decision here.

It has now been announced that a licensed medical marijuana grower, Aurora Cannabis Inc., has committed to supporting the employee, Gordon "Wayne" Skinner, financially and with other resources in relation to an "appeal" to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal that will be heard on October 2, 2017.

The announcement was made in a news release by the Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM).  CFAMM states that it is a non-profit patient advocacy organization founded in 2014 and that is dedicated to protecting and improving the rights of medical cannabis patients. CFAMM says it has been providing "strategic support" to Mr. Skinner in the case.  read more »

CUPE Ontario calls Ontario's Changing Workplace Review Final Report “majorly disappointing”

Topics: - News Releases
Jurisdiction: - Ontario

This is CUPE Ontario's May 23, 2017 statement on Ontario's Changing Workplace Review:

TORONTO - ONTARIO - The long awaited Changing Workplaces Review Final Report proved a major disappointment today when after expecting major reform of Ontario's labour law to make the legal right to join a union a practical reality for workers outside of traditional workplaces, the final report contained nothing of the sort.

"Rewriting Ontario's Labour Relations Act and Employment Standards Act isn't something any government can do every year or two so when it does happen, it makes sense to expect significant change" CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn said today.

"What happened to the major reforms that workers have been calling for with a virtually unanimous voice? What happened to card based certification, anti‑scab legislation, access to first contract arbitration and recognition of successor rights - they're nowhere to be found. What happened to paid sick days for all workers?"  read more »

Ontario's "Changing Workplaces Review" final report reccomends significant changes to workplace laws

Jurisdiction: - Ontario
Sector: - All

On May 23, 2017, the final report from Ontario's "Changing Workplaces Review" was released. The Final Report proposes amendments to Ontario's Employment Standards Act, 2000 ("ESA") and Labour Relations Act, 1995 ("LRA") and contains 173 recommendations.

The Ontario report was, notably, released one day before Alberta introduced legislation to modernize its workplace legislation. Specifically, the Alberta bill (Bill 17 - The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act) proposes to amend its Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code to support family-friendly workplaces and bring Alberta's standards into alignment with the rest of Canada. Stay tuned for a post on Alberta's initiative.

Genesis of Ontario's Changing Workplace Review

The 419-page Final Report is the culmination of a review that the Ontario government committed to in the 2014 Throne Speech and the Ontario Minister of Labour's 2014 Mandate Letter in relation to the review stated:  read more »

Competition Law Issues for HR Professionals in Canada

Jurisdiction: - All - United States
Sector: - All

I came across an interesting article today by Mark C. Katz entitled, "Competition Law Issues for HR Professionals in Canada".

Mark is a lawyer at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP in Toronto. The article was published in December 2016.

You can access the full article at the link below but this is the introduction:  read more »

CRA fired 8 employees in last fiscal year for improperly accessing taxpayer information

Topics: - Privacy
Jurisdiction: - Canada/Federal

The Canada Revenue Agency terminated the employment of eight employees between April 2016 and March 2017 for accessing taxpayers' personal information without authorization.

This according to an article that ran today by the Canadian Press and that was carried by several media outlets, including the Globe and Mail and the Financial Post, and an article by the CBC. 

Other information of note from the articles (in some cases directly taken from the articles) is:  read more »

Aggravated damages awarded in absence of medical evidence

Jurisdiction: - British Columbia
Sector: - Retail Trade

In Cottrill v. Utopia Day Spas and Salons Ltd., 2017 BCSC 704, aggravated damages of $15,000 were awarded against a defendant for failing to be fair in its assessment of the plaintiff’s performance in the lead up to its decision to terminate her for cause.

This continues a recent trend in wrongful dismissal cases of aggravated damages being awarded for treatment seen by the court as unfair in the absence of medical evidence (see also Johnson v. Marine Roofing Repair & Maintenance Service (2003) Ltd., 2015 BCSC 472 for a similar result).