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Ontario Human Rights Commission Posts Q and A on Cannabis and the Human Rights Code

With legalization on Ontario’s doorstep, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has issued a new policy discussing the impact of legal cannabis on human rights issues in the province.  The policy document correctly notes that the legalization of cannabis does not change how employers must respond to impairment and addiction at work but it does highlight the rights of employees with scent sensitivities to be protected from cannabis smoke or vapours in the workplace, which is an area of concern that we expect our clients will hear more about as recreational cannabis use becomes more common. 
Helpfully, the policy also specifically acknowledges that employers have no obligation to accommodate an employee’s desire to use cannabis for recreational purposes.
A link to the policy document can be found here.
For more information about the intersection of legal cannabis and human rights at work or any other workplace issues, please reach out to a member of the Cassels Brock Employment & Labour Group.

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Deal or No Deal? When is a Final Release Actually Final?

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice illustrates the challenges employers can face when attempting to enforce a signed release. In Swampillai v. Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, 2018 ONSC 4023 (CanLII), the Court was asked to consider on a motion for summary judgment on whether or not the release signed by Mr. Swampillai at the time of the termination of his employment barred him from pursuing a claim for long term disability benefits. Justice Cavanaugh found that Mr. Swampillai had signed the release under circumstances that were unconscionable and, as such, the release could not prevent him from pursuing a claim for long term disability (LTD) benefits. Mr. Swampillai was thus free to continue his action against his former employer, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada (RSA) and Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (Sun Life), who acted as the administrator of RSA’s long term disability benefits program, even though the release signed by Mr. Swampillai specifically cited “long term disability benefits” as a released claim. So what went wrong for RSA? To understand the Court’s decision, we need to review the circumstances that existed at the time that RSA and Mr. Swampillai negotiated the severance package.

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Bill C-45 Passes in the Senate, Making Cannabis Legal in Canada

By way of a 52-29 vote, the Canadian Senate has now passed the federal government’s bill legalizing recreational marijuana in Canada. It is now up to the federal government to set a date for formal legalization, with provincial governments receiving an eight to twelve week period to prepare for the sale of the drug within their province. The Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent within a matter of days.

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Back to the Drawing Board: Ontario Returns to Old Public Holiday Formula

The Ministry of Labour has announced that, as of July 1, 2018, public holiday pay entitlements in Ontario will be calculated using the formula that existed prior to the enactment of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (FWBJA). Many commentators - including the authors of this blog - had noted that the new formula contained in the FWBJA resulted in a significant windfall for casual employees and arguably unjustified costs for Ontario employers. The Ministry of Labour has responded to these concerns by reinstating the old public holiday rules on an interim basis while it reviews how to simplify public holiday pay entitlements under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ESA).

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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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Compliance Alert: Ontario’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Laws in Effect on April 1, 2018

The impacts of Bill 148 continue to be felt by Ontario employers as even more significant changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the ESA) are starting to come into effect.

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Five New Year’s Resolutions for Ontario Employers

Ontario employers can be forgiven for a lack of enthusiasm in ringing in 2018.  Several significant changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”) come into effect as of January 1, 2018 and many employers are scrambling to ensure that their policies and practices are up to date.   However, the ESA amendments are not the only employment issues that should be on your radar for 2018.  We’ve put together a short list of suggested New Year’s resolutions to help employers proactively address potential workplace issues in 2018 and beyond.

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Videocast - Bill 148: Significant Changes on the Horizon for Labour and Employment Laws

Cassels Brock recently hosted a seminar highlighting some of the significant changes and implications of Bill 148 and discussing strategies on how to best prepare for these changes to employment standards, enforcement measures and labour relations. You can now watch a videocast of this seminar - featuring Laurie Jessome, Caitlin Russel and Pamela Hinman - here.

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Canada Labour Code to be Amended to Strengthen Provisions on Workplace Harassment

The federal government recently introduced a bill in the House of Commons that would amend both the Canada Labour Code (the Code) and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act to address concerns regarding workplace harassment and sexual harassment.  The government says that Bill C-65 is intended to provide victims of workplace bullying, harassment and sexual harassment with better protections and support. It also aims to prevent workplace harassment and bullying by making employers responsible for ensuring that their workers are not subjected to risk of “accidents and physical or psychological injuries and illnesses.”  Previously, the Code’s workplace safety provisions were primarily focused on accidents and injuries.  The inclusion of psychological  injuries and illnesses is a significant expansion of the employer’s health and safety responsibilities toward its workers. The draft Bill would also expand the protections in Part II of the Code (which relate to workplace safety) to Parliamentary employees, who had previously been exempt from those provisions of the Code. 
To achieve these goals, Bill C-65 would  require federally regulated to take the following steps:

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I Want a Second Opinion: When Can Employers Require an Independent Medical Examination?

Many employers have found themselves in a situation where their employee has provided a medical note or doctor’s recommendation that doesn’t seem quite right.  But how do you investigate further without invading your employee’s privacy and without breaching your duty to accommodate under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”)?  A recent decision of the Ontario Divisional Court, Bottiglia v. Ottawa Catholic School Board and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario 2017 ONSC 2517 (“Bottiglia”) provides some helpful guidance.

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Human Resources Professionals Association Issues White Paper on Marijuana at Work

With legalization of recreational marijuana use on its way, many Canadian employers have been looking for guidance on how to respond to a potential increase in the number of employees who have access to or make use of cannabis products. The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) has recently issued a white paper identifying some of the issues employers may face once the Cannabis Act comes into effect and making some recommendations for both employers and government. In connection with preparing this white paper, the HRPA conducted a survey of its members and found that only 11% of responding human resources professionals believed that their workplace policies addressed the use of medical marijuana in the workplace at all and 46% believed their workplace policies did not adequately cover issues that may arise as a result of legalization of recreational marijuana. Close to 90% of respondents had no personal experience with accommodating an employee who used medical marijuana. 

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Changing Workplaces Review: Ontario Government Announces Significant Changes to Employment Standards Act

Following the release of the final Changing Workplaces Review report last week, Ontario employers and (and their lawyers) have been anxiously awaiting the government’s response.  In press conference held today Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that her government would be introducing proposed legislation, The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, which will amend both the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act (LRA).  Click here  for our update on the changes to the LRA.

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Ontario’s Employment and Labour Legislation Facing Big Changes

The Liberal government of Ontario has confirmed a release date for its long-awaited Changing Workplaces Review, which solicited feedback on, and will make recommendations regarding changes to, the province’s Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act. The government is targeting the week of May 22, immediately following the Victoria Day holiday.

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Nov 30, 2016
TAGS: Wage Gap
Ontario to Target Wage Gap

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has announced that it is creating a new working group to provide the government with advice and feedback on how to address the gender wage gap in Ontario. The working group will be comprised of members of the business, labour and human resources communities, as well as representatives of women’s advocacy groups. The working groups are expected to focus on how the government can better leverage tools such as the Pay Equity Act and parental leaves to address gendered wage disparity in the workplace. The Ontario government estimates that Ontario’s gender wage gap ranges from 14% to 26%.

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Wage Gap

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