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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Ontario caps compensation increases for public servants and the broader public sector

November 13, 2019

Bill 124, the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019 (the “Act”), received Royal Assent on November 7, 2019, and was proclaimed in force on November 8, 2019. Readers of Focus will recall that the legislation operates to limit compensation increases for both unionized and non-unionized employees in the Ontario public service and the broader public sector (see Ontario introduces legislation to limit compensation increases in the public sector). As can be expected, the legislation has come under heavy fire with unions representing impacted employees gearing up for constitutional challenges.   Application of Bill 124 Bill 124…

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Arbitrator upholds without pay suspension of teacher who remained silent when faced with allegations of inappropriate conduct with students

November 5, 2019

Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association v Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board, 2019 CanLII 95001 (ON LA) An arbitrator upheld the three-month suspension without pay of a teacher who refused to answer questions during an investigation pertaining to his inappropriate conduct with two students. The teacher chose to exercise his right to remain silent in response to his employer’s inquiries in light of the fact that he was potentially facing criminal charges.   LABOUR RELATIONS Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario v Bluewater District School Board, 2019 CanLII 90975 (ON LA) An arbitrator upheld the School Board’s position that its kindergarten class…

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Limitations on specifically bargained benefits can exist outside of the express terms of the collective agreement

October 30, 2019

A recent arbitration decision confirms that there can be external limitations on collectively bargained benefits coverage. In Ottawa Professional Firefighters’ Association and The City of Ottawa (September 2019), Arbitrator Brian Keller determined that the collective agreement in question did not provide an all-encompassing, comprehensive benefit plan. Instead, he agreed with the employer’s position that standard limitations and conditions set out in external documents, such as the master contract with the insurance carrier, may be valid if employees are not deprived of the benefit negotiated in the collective agreement. It is noteworthy that the employer in this arbitration was expertly and…

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Voting time: Employers’ obligations on Election Day

October 16, 2019

The federal election has been called for October 21, 2019. Employers should be aware that, under the Canada Elections Act, they must provide employees paid time off to vote.   Three consecutive hours to vote All employees who are Canadian citizens and 18 years of age or older are entitled to have three consecutive hours off on Election Day to vote. Voting hours in the Eastern time zone are from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. If an employee’s hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours off within this period, the employer must give them sufficient time off…

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New federal labour standards take root; federal employers take heed!

August 20, 2019

Many of the employment standards changes that the federal government worked through Parliament over the past year are coming into effect on September 1, 2019. Federal employers must now be ready to adopt new practices to avoid penalties. The standards coming into effect on September 1, 2019, are:   Right to request flexible work arrangements After six (6) consecutive months of employment, employees will be entitled to request changes to their hours of work, work schedule, or work location. The request must be written, and the employer must respond in writing as soon as possible. The request can only be…

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Preliminary injunctions against random drug and alcohol testing

August 1, 2019

Office and Professional Employees International Union v Cougar Helicopters, 2019 CanLII 66726 (NL LA)   This Echo Hotel Aviation HR Briefing follows-up on the decision that Emond Harnden recently reported on in its Echo Hotel Aviation Law Briefing. An arbitrator in Office and Professional Employees International Union v Cougar Helicopters has decided to temporarily strike down Cougar Helicopters’ drug and alcohol policy pending final arbitration of the union’s grievance. As cannabis is becoming even more accessible and more citizens are using the drug, aviation employers must be aware of each step in a union grievance against random alcohol and drug…

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Canada Without Barriers to Accessibility by 2040

July 22, 2019

On November 27, 2018, the House of Commons passed Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, also known as the Accessible Canada Act (the “Act”). The Act received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019 and will come into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.   Purpose The Act is intended to provide a proactive and systemic approach to the identification, removal and prevention of barriers to accessibility for persons with disabilities in relation to the following areas: employment; the built environment; communication, including use of American, Quebec, and Indigenous sign…

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Ontario introduces legislation to limit compensation increases in the public sector

June 14, 2019

On June 5, 2019, the Ontario government introduced Bill 124 – An Act to implement moderation measures in respect of compensation in Ontario’s public sector. The legislation follows a two-month consultation period that commenced April 4, 2019 (see Ontario government launches public sector compensation consultations – wages to be “modest, reasonable and sustainable”). Short-titled as the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019, the explanatory note prefacing the legislation states that its purpose is “to ensure that increases in public sector compensation reflect the fiscal situation of the Province, are consistent with the principles of responsible fiscal…

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Employee’s breach of confidentiality relieves employer of obligation to pay – “Settlements in labour law are sacrosanct” – Arbitrator

June 6, 2019

A recent arbitration decision highlights the important role that confidentiality plays in labour dispute settlements. In Acadia University and the Acadia University Faculty Association (Alleged Breach of Minutes of Settlement – Dr. Rick Mehta) (May, 2019), Arbitrator Kaplan relieved the employer of its obligation to make a settlement payment following the employee’s breach of the confidentiality provisions in the Minutes of Settlement. By way of brief background, Dr. Rick Mehta, a tenured professor at Acadia University, was terminated for cause in August of 2018. The Acadia University Faculty Association (the “Association”) filed grievances contesting the termination. The parties agreed to…

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February 21, 2019 – Air Canada Hong Kong tail strike pilot five days out of simulator

May 15, 2019

TOP STORY Air Canada Hong Kong tail strike pilot five days out of simulator   DECISIONS Punitive damages for patent infringement – Airbus Helicopters S.A.S. v Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limited – 2019 FCA 29 Appeal from $1 000 000 award of punitive damages – Bell Helicopter infringed Airbus patent – appeal dismissed – trial judge awarded damages based on reasonable assessment of facts and correct application of law Wrong jurisdiction – Basheer v Airport Terminal Services Canadian Company – 2019 HRTO 226 Applicant alleged discimination in employment based on age – respondent replied that Ontario tribunal had no jurisdiction – federal work and undertaking –…

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The existence of concurrent criminal charges does not stop the statutory limitation period from running

May 9, 2019

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice will prove to be very useful for employers as it reduces the potential for lingering liability in respect of wrongful dismissal claims. In Sosnowski v MacEwen Petroleum Inc. (April 2019), the court dismissed a wrongful dismissal action because it was commenced more than two years after the date of termination. The decision confirms that there must be “exceptional factual circumstances” in order to extend the deadline for commencing a wrongful dismissal action. Emond Harnden’s Porter Heffernan and Joël Rocque successfully argued this point on a motion for summary judgment on…

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Arbitrator Determines Termination of Nurse for Addiction-Related Narcotics Theft Discriminatory but Reinstatement not an Appropriate Remedy

April 17, 2019

In the recent case of Humber River Hospital v. Ontario Nurses’ Association, (December 2018) an arbitrator considered the complex issue of addiction-related narcotics theft by a nurse. The issue was whether the Hospital had failed in its duty to accommodate when it terminated an emergency room nurse with a drug addiction who had stolen narcotics from the Hospital and used them while at work. The union grieved her termination on the basis that the termination was discriminatory, since her conduct stemmed from an addiction disability, and argued that the Hospital had failed in its duty to accommodate. The union also…

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Bill 66 receives Royal Assent – More changes to ESA now in effect

April 11, 2019

Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019, received Royal Assent on April 3, 2019. As discussed in a previous Focus Alert (see Ontario’s workplace laws continue to be the target of change as the government introduces Bill 66), Bill 66 is omnibus legislation that amends, in part, the Employment Standards Act, the Labour Relations Act and the Pension Benefits Act.   Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) The following ESA amendments came into effect on April 3, 2019: ESA Poster Employers are no longer required to post the ESA poster in the workplace. Employers are still required to provide the most recent version…

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Ontario government launches public sector compensation consultations – wages to be “modest, reasonable and sustainable”

April 9, 2019

On April 4th, the Ontario government announced that it would be consulting with public sector employers and collective bargaining agents “on how to manage compensation growth in a way that results in wage settlements that are modest, reasonable and sustainable.” The government further stated that the feedback received would directly inform the next steps taken to manage growth in public sector compensation costs. The announcement came roughly one week following the release of the 2018 Public Sector Salary Disclosure, more commonly known as the “sunshine list”. As most people are aware, the sunshine list sets out the names and salaries of public…

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“Context is everything” – arbitrator interprets “serious illness” in Ontario Nurses’ Association Collective Agreement

March 27, 2019

Many employers in the health care sector will be familiar with collective agreement provisions that operate to convert vacation leave pay to sick leave pay where an employee’s vacation is interrupted by “serious illness”. These types of provisions have been hotly-contested between employers and unions for well over twenty years. The recent decision in Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Ontario Nurses’ Association (December, 2018) represents a positive step forward in how such provisions will be interpreted. It should be noted that Emond Harnden’s own Raquel Chisholm represented the Health Centre in these proceedings. The controversial language that was the subject…

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