Focus Alerts

Our Focus Alerts provide up-to-the minute information about significant cases and other developments in labour and employment law.

The articles listed below are intended to provide readers with general information. They should not be regarded or relied upon as legal advice or opinion.

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Update on Bill 148 – The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

November 29, 2017

On July 20, 2017, we reported on the changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, and the Labour Relations Act, 1995, that were being proposed by the provincial government in Bill 148. Since then, the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs held public hearings on the Bill over the summer and an amended version of the bill was introduced and debated in the Legislature in September. The bill passed Second Reading on October 18, 2017. The Bill was then referred back to the Standing Committee for further public consultations. A further amended version of Bill 148 was referred back…

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Bill 148 – The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017

July 20, 2017

Readers of Focus will recall that on May 31, 2017, prior to the introduction of Bill 148, we highlighted the key changes being proposed by the government of Ontario to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, and the Labour Relations Act, 1995, in a Focus Alert entitled, “Ontario proposes major changes to employment and labour laws.” The following day, on June 1, 2017, Bill 148 – the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, was introduced in the legislature and was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Following our Breakfast Seminar on June 28, 2017, in which our…

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CASL Updates – Private right of action for CASL non-compliance suspended; transition period for implied consent ends July 1, 2017

June 29, 2017

Many readers of Focus will be familiar with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (“CASL”), which came into force on July 1st, 2014. Among other things, the legislation regulates the sending of “Commercial Electronic Messages” or “CEMs”. Organizations that send “CEMs” should be aware of two important CASL updates. First, the implementation of the CASL provisions that would provide a “private right of action” for violations of the CASL has been delayed. These provisions were set to come into force on July 1, 2017, however, in response to concerns raised by a broad spectrum of stakeholders, the federal government postponed implementation earlier this…

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Ontario proposes major changes to employment and labour laws

May 31, 2017

Further to our Focus Alert from last week, on May 30, 2017, the government of Ontario announced its intention to introduce proposed legislation entitled the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017. The government has indicated that the legislation will be introduced over the next few days and, if passed, will result in significant amendments to both the Ontario Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) and the Ontario Labour Relations Act (“LRA”).   Proposed changes to the ESA In a news conference held on May 30, 2017, the government of Ontario highlighted the following five changes: Proposed Increases to Ontario’s Minimum Wage If…

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Divisional Court holds that employers may require an Independent Medical Examination in “certain circumstances”

May 30, 2017

Readers of Focus are familiar with the procedural and substantive components of an employer’s duty to accommodate an employee’s disability-related needs. The procedural component requires the employer to assess the employee’s needs, and to investigate possible accommodation measures for that employee. The substantive component requires the employer to provide the necessary accommodations to the point of undue hardship. But to what degree must an employer accept the medical evidence presented on behalf of an employee? And under what circumstances will an employer be entitled to seek further medical information? The Divisional Court recently addressed these questions in Bottiglia v. Ottawa…

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The Release of Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review

May 25, 2017

As our readers will recall, Ontario’s Minister of Labour appointed C. Michael Mitchell and former Justice John C. Murray as Special Advisors to lead the Changing Workplaces Review, seeking recommendations to modernize Ontario’s Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. In July, 2016, the Special Advisors released an Interim Report detailing various options to overhaul employment and labour laws in Ontario. Emond Harnden issued a Focus Alert detailing some of the proposed recommendations in the Interim Report (see Ontario considers options to amend the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act). Emond Harnden also made submissions in response to…

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Ontario government releases Construction Health and Safety Action Plan

May 18, 2017

On May 11, 2017, the Government of Ontario released its Construction Health and Safety Action Plan (CHSAP or Action Plan). The Action Plan, which includes 16 specific recommendations, was created with input from construction employers, workers and other industry stakeholders. The Province’s goal in adopting the Action Plan is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities for workers on construction sites across the province. In March 2015, the Minister of Labour established an advisory group to assist the government in the development and implementation of a Construction Health and Safety Action Plan. The advisory group, which included an equal number…

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Worried about legal liability for providing a bad reference? Truth is the best defence

May 17, 2017

In the increasingly litigious world of employment law, employers may often be hesitant to provide a negative reference for a former employee. This hesitation often stems from concerns that the former employee may bring an action claiming damages for defamation or fraudulent misrepresentation. Although these concerns are not without justification, the recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Papp v. Stokes et al (April, 2017) may help to put them in the proper perspective. By way of background, Mr. Papp was employed as a staff economist with Stokes Economic Consulting Inc. The employment was terminated after just…

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Clock on limitation period for wrongful dismissal claim starts on day of notice – not last day worked

May 5, 2017

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice confirms that the limitation period in respect of a wrongful dismissal claim commences on the day that the employee is provided notice of the termination, not on the last day the employee works. In Bailey v. Milo-Food & Agricultural Infrastructure & Services Inc. (April, 2017), the defendant employer was successful on a motion to have the employee’s claim of wrongful dismissal struck. The judge agreed with the employer that the wrongful dismissal claim was commenced more than six months after the expiration of the limitation period and was therefore statute-barred….

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Court of Appeal finds termination clause void for contravening ESA – employer required to pay salary for remainder of fixed term contract

April 21, 2017

The recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Covenoho v. Pendylum Ltd. (April, 2017) drives home two important lessons for employers. First, termination clauses in employment contracts must comply with the minimum requirements of the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”). Where they do not, the more generous common law notice period will apply. Second, when terminating a fixed term employment contract, in the absence of a valid contractual provision stipulating a notice period, the employer is required to pay an employee to the end of the term. The employee is not required to mitigate his or her damages. The…

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