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Ontario Ministry of Labour Inspections Schedule

Ontario's Ministry of Labour has released its schedule of inspection initiatives for 2019. These inspections involve consideration of both health and safety and employment standards compliance in the workplace. The Ministry focuses on sectors where (a) there is a history of violations, (b) vulnerable workers like new and young workers, temporary foreign workers and precarious worker are employed, and (c) there has been an increase in the number of people employed.

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2018: The Year in Review in Employment Law

We often say there is rarely a dull moment in employment law. This year, however, has been exceptionally eventful. From a pendulum swing caused by the change in government to statutory obligations in Ontario, to #metoo, to the legalization of cannabis and its impact on the workplace, it has been an exciting year. We recap the major developments in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and for federally-regulated employers below.

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Bill 148 is Officially Unravelled as Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 Becomes Law

On November 21, 2018, Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, quickly passed third reading and received royal assent.

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Court of Appeal Restores Distinction Between ESA Minimum Notice Requirements and Common Law Notice

On September 19, 2018, the Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in Wood v. CTS of Canada Co.. The decision restores the important division between common law reasonable notice and the minimum notice provisions of the Employment Standards Act (ESA).

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Termination of Benefits Coverage at Age 65 Declared Unconstitutional

This decision has been anticipated for quite some time. Although the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) was amended to remove the upper limit on age discrimination and prohibit mandatory retirement in 2006, discrimination in connection with benefit and pension plans based on age continued to be permitted by the Code and the Benefits Regulation under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). These distinctions were rationalized based on advice from insurers and independent studies that pension and benefits plans would suffer because of the costs increases expected to be associated with providing coverage for older workers.

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Court Confirms that Employers Can Impose Changes in Terms of Employment Upon Provision of Reasonable Notice

In Lancia v. Park Dentistry, 2018 ONSC 751, the Ontario Superior Court found that an employee who resigned after her employer provided 18 months’ notice of changes to certain terms of her employment and a signing bonus had not been constructively dismissed.

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Ontario Labour Relations Board Opens the Door to Franchisee Unionization in the Canada Bread Certification Case

The Ontario Labour Board has found that Canada Bread’s drivers, who were principals of franchisee corporations that contracted with Canada Bread for the right to deliver products along designated routes, are dependent contractors and capable of being certified into bargaining units.

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A Rare Win for an Employer’s Ability to Drug Test

As Canadian employers and U.S. employers with Canadian subsidiaries well know, the climate in Canada has never been favourable to drug and alcohol testing.  Earlier this month, however, the Supreme Court of Canada endorsed an employer’s decision to terminate the employment of an employee who, post-accident, tested positive for drugs – even after he disclosed that he thought he was addicted to cocaine.  The case is Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp., 2017 SCC 30.

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