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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Time Off for Voting: Employer Obligations on Election Day

September 14, 2021

The federal election has been called for Monday, September 20, 2021. Employers should be aware that, under the Canada Elections Act (the “Act”), they must provide employees with 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…

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Superior Court of Justice Increases Reasonable Notice Assessment Due to COVID-19

August 10, 2021

From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been significant uncertainty in the legal community as to the potential impact of the resulting global economic shutdown on damages awards in employment litigation. In the recent decision of Kraft v. Firepower Financial Corp., the Ontario Superior Court of Justice provided insight into the issue specifically as it pertains to the calculation of the reasonable notice period that helps determine the amount of damages an employee might be entitled to on termination of their employment.   Facts In October of 2014, the plaintiff was hired by the defendant, Firepower Financial Corp….

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Divisional Court Quashes Landmark Decision on Discrimination in Employment on the Basis of Citizenship

July 29, 2021

Our Focus Alert readers will recall that back in 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “Tribunal”) was tasked with considering a claim of discrimination in employment on the basis of citizenship. In Haseeb v. Imperial Oil Ltd. (“Haseeb”), the Tribunal determined that the employer’s requirement that applicants be permitted to work in Canada on a permanent basis in order to be eligible for a position as a project engineer constituted direct discrimination on the basis of citizenship. However, in what will be welcome news for employers with similar employment pre-conditions, the Ontario Divisional Court recently quashed this landmark…

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Court refuses to award pension-related damages to retired employee

July 22, 2021

In Brousseau v. La Cité collégiale et al. (June 2021), the former Vice President of Human Resources of La Cité collégiale (“La Cité”), who retired in 2012, sought just over $1.8 million in damages for the alleged breach of a verbal agreement between him and the College’s former President to pay for all costs to transfer his pensions with previous employers to the College’s pension plan. He also claimed damages for negligent misrepresentation, arguing that he relied upon an erroneous estimate received from another employee about his monthly pension payments when deciding to retire. Emond Harnden’s André Champagne and Sophie…

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Proposed Amendments to Regulations Under the Canada Labour Code Subject to 30-Day Consultation Period

July 15, 2021

Readers of Focus will recall that in September 2019, many amendments to the labour standards provisions of the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) came into effect. These changes provided new and expanded entitlements in a variety of areas, from leaves to hours of work provisions to the ability of eligible employees to seek flexible work arrangements. They also added a new Part IV of the Code, which put in place a system of Administrative Monetary Penalties for violations under the Code. On June 26, 2021, Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Canada Labour Code (the “Proposed Regulations”) were proposed….

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Government Implements New Statutory Holiday for Federally Regulated Workers to Honour Residential School Survivors

Back in the fall of 2020, the Canadian government first introduced Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation) (“Bill C-5”). In the wake of the devastating discovery in late May of the remains of 215 children buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, Bill C-5 was fast tracked through the legislature and received Royal Assent on June 3, 2021. Bill C-5, which will come into force on August 3, 2021, effectively creates a new statutory holiday on September 30th…

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Federal Government Amends Several Provisions of the Canada Labour Code

Bill C-30, the Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1 (“Bill C-30”), which gives effect to the Canadian government’s 2021 budget, received Royal Assent on June 29, 2021. Bill C-220, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (bereavement leave) (“Bill C-220”), also received Royal Assent on June 29, 2021. Of particular importance for federally regulated employers, these Bills will result in several changes to the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”).   Fixing a New Federal Minimum Wage Bill C-30 establishes a new federal minimum wage of $15.00 per hour, effective December 29, 2021. Where an employee usually works in a…

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Federal Pay Equity Act and Regulations Will Come into Force on August 31, 2021

On July 7, 2021, the federal government announced that the Pay Equity Act (the “Act”) will come into force on August 31, 2021. As discussed in a previous Focus article, the Act aims to ensure equal compensation for men and women who perform work of equal value in the same establishment. Equal pay is to be achieved through compensation increases, to be paid where a pay equity plan demonstrates a difference in compensation between predominantly female job classes and comparable predominantly male classes. Subject employers are required to prepare and post a pay equity plan within three (3) years of…

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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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