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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Ontario Court of Appeal finds “owner” of a construction project is “employer” with expanded safety obligations under the OHSA

May 7, 2021

A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal upends the traditional allocation of responsibility for health and safety on construction sites. In Ontario (Labour) v. Sudbury (City) (April, 2021) Ontario’s highest court found that the City of Sudbury (City) was not only the “owner” but also an “employer” for the purposes of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The Court of Appeal’s decision meant that the City had additional health and safety obligations and could be liable for violations of the OHSA. By way of background, the City hired a general contractor to undertake road and watermain repairs….

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Ontario Court of Appeal rules on pay equity in female job classes – ongoing comparisons to “proxy” male workplaces required

March 31, 2021

A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal represents the latest development in a long-standing issue regarding how to maintain pay equity in predominantly female workplaces. In Participating Nursing Homes v. Ontario (March, 2021) Ontario’s top court held that maintaining pay equity in female job classes with no direct male comparators requires ongoing comparisons to “proxy” male job classes. This decision is very significant as it represents a departure from the concept that proxy comparators were necessary to establish pay equity, but not to maintain it. As many readers of Focus will know, the Ontario Pay Equity Act (the…

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New Tort of Internet Harassment in Ontario

February 18, 2021

In Caplan v. Atas, 2021 ONSC 670, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice recognized the new tort of “harassment in Internet communications”. On January 28, 2021, Justice Corbett issued the decision, which arose from a consolidation of four proceedings, all of which related to a 20-year campaign of online defamation, harassment and abuse perpetrated by Ms. Atas. She targeted as many as 150 victims, both anonymously and pseudonymously. Her harassing behaviour targeted, among others, a former employer who had terminated her for cause and her former legal counsel, as well as their relatives. Ms. Atas’ unfounded allegations against these individuals…

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Supreme Court of Canada Upholds Finding that Illegal “Just Cause” Termination Provision Voids All Termination Provisions

January 22, 2021

As readers may recall from our previous Focus Alert, in June 2020, the Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in Waksdale v. Swegon North America Inc., 2020 ONCA 391. The Ontario appellate court found that a termination provision in an employment agreement must be read as a whole and that, since one element of the termination provision violated the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”), the entirety of the termination provision was unenforceable – even though the employer had not sought to rely upon the unenforceable element. On January 14, 2021, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the employer’s application…

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Federal Government Publishes Proposed Regulations for the new federal Pay Equity Act

January 4, 2021

Long time Focus Alert readers will recall that in late 2018, the federal government tabled and passed Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 which, amongst other things, introduced the new Pay Equity Act (the “Act”) in an effort to ensure that all workers subject to its provisions receive equal pay for work of equal value, regardless of their gender. Briefly, the Act requires subject employers – or their pay equity committee, as applicable – to prepare and implement a proactive pay equity plan within three (3) years of its coming into force. Initially expected to take place…

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Federal Government publishes IPG document on new Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations under the Canada Labour Code

December 10, 2020

Focus Alert readers will recall that back in June, the Federal Government published the Work Place Harassment and Prevention Regulations (the “Regulations”), a new standalone regulation made under the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) which supports the implementation of the recent and extensive changes made to the work place harassment and violence prevention regime applicable to many federally regulated employers as a result of the passage of Bill C-65. At the time of the initial publication of the Regulations, its changes were not actually scheduled to come into effect for another six months. However, that deadline is now rapidly approaching,…

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Federal government proposes ground-breaking private sector privacy legislation

November 20, 2020

On November 17, 2020, the federal government introduced Bill C-11, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020 (“DCIA”), which would serve to overhaul Canada’s federal private sector privacy law regime. The new scheme would introduce two new statutes, the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (“CPPA”) and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act (“PIDPTA”), and replace the existing Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) with the Electronic Documents Act. The DCIA takes obvious influence from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), and represents a sea change for the federal private sector privacy regime, establishing a new administrative tribunal…

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New Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations Published in the Canada Gazette

August 6, 2020

In a previous Focus Alert, we discussed the provisions of Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 (the “Act”). Readers will recall that one of the primary purposes of Bill C-65 was to expand employer obligations under Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) of the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) to prevent and protect against workplace harassment and violence, respond to occurrences of harassment and violence, provide support to employees affected by harassment and violence, and investigate, record and…

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Ontario Court of Appeal finds that illegal “just cause” provision voids all termination provisions

June 23, 2020

Recently in Waksdale v. Swegon North America Inc., 2020 ONCA 391, the Ontario Court of Appeal was faced with an employment agreement which contained two separate termination provisions, contained in different paragraphs within the agreement. One provision addressed termination on a “just cause” basis, which the parties agreed was illegal because it provided a lesser benefit than the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”). The other provision addressed termination on a “without cause” basis, which the parties agreed was lawful and compliant with the ESA when considered as a stand-alone provision. The issue for the Court of Appeal was whether…

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Federal Government Introduces Increased Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

April 2, 2020

As all Canadians adjust to a new “normal” in the era of COVID-19, many employers – whether they continue to operate as an essential service or not – are facing significant economic uncertainty. Since March 18, 2020, the federal government has announced a number of economic measures to stabilize the economy, including billions of dollars in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses. One of the measures which is intended specifically to assist employers in continuing to pay their employees and avoiding lay-offs where possible is the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.   What is the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy The…

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