Québec's New All-In-One Labour, Employment
And Workers Compensation Tribunal
In yet another attempt to streamline and rationalize government
services and administrative justice, the Québec Government
adopted legislation in June of this year that will result in the
merger of the province's employment standards commission
(Commission des normes du travail), workplace health and
safety commission (Commission de la santé et de la
sécurité du travail) and pay equity commission
(Commission de l'équité salariale) into
one single administrative body which shall be called the
Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la
santé et de la sécurité du travail. The
new commission will generally continue the activities of its merged
However, what is of greater significance is the creation of a
new, all-in-one, labour, employment and workers compensation
tribunal that will result from the merger of Québec's
labour board (Commission des relations du travail) with
the workers compensation board (Commission des
lésions professionnelles) that will form the new
Administrative Labour Tribunal (the 'ALT').
As a result, effective January 1, 2016, both employees and
employers will be required to seize the ALT of most disputes
arising under Québec's Labour Code, its
Act respecting Labour Standards, its Act respecting
occupational health and safety and its Act Respecting
Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases.
The ALT will sit in four divisions: the labour relations
division, the occupational health and safety division, the
essential services division and the construction industry and
occupational qualification division.
From a practical perspective, the most significant change
concerns the manner in which a party must submit a dispute to the
ALT. The party will be required to file an "originating
pleading" with one of the ALT's offices. The originating
pleading "must specify the conclusions sought and set out the
grounds in support of them".
This process could mark a significant departure from the current
procedure which essentially consists of the filing of standard
forms that provide little information regarding the alleged facts
that give rise to the dispute. Furthermore, under the current
system, the conclusions sought are not specified. Depending on how
the new rules are applied, the new procedure could force the
plaintiff to narrow the scope of the dispute at the outset which
should facilitate both the conciliation process and, if need be,
the actual hearing of the dispute before the ALT.
With respect to conciliation, the ALT will have the power to ask
a conciliator to meet with the parties and attempt to bring them to
an agreement. However such conciliation will only take place with
the consent of the parties. While this is a positive development
that reflects the current practice at the legacy tribunals, we feel
that law makers should have seized this opportunity to make
attendance at pre-hearing conciliation a mandatory step in the
Finally, the law creating the ALT formalizes the process for
pre-hearing conferences, although such conferences are not
mandatory and are called at the discretion of the ALT. This also is
a positive development as it will encourage the parties to narrow
the scope of the issues and of the proof for the hearing, which
should shorten the length of the hearings, especially in the case
of psychological harassment complaints.
Time will tell whether these changes improve the administrative
justice system applicable to workers and employers.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).