On March 22, the 2017 federal budget, Building
a Strong Middle Class Through Innovation, was released.
Among its myriad proposals, several anticipated changes related to
families and leaves will affect employers, including amendments to
the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour
Code. While the changes to the Canada Labour Code
will be limited to federally regulated employers, all employers may
be affected by changes to the Employment Insurance
Changes to the Canada Labour Code:
the right for federally-regulated employees to request flexible
work arrangements (e.g., start and finish times, and
ability to work from home);
elimination of internships in federally-regulated sectors not
part of formal education programs;
unpaid leave to: (i) take care of family responsibilities; (ii)
participate in traditional indigenous practices; and (iii) seek
care if they are victims of family violence; and
additional flexibility for bereavement leave.
To discourage contravention and assist employees in recovering
wages, additional funding will also be given towards ensuring
employers comply with the Canada Labour Code.
Changes to the Employment Insurance Act:
the time a parent can receive Employment Insurance (EI)
benefits will be extended from 12 months to 18 months. However, if
an employee elects to receive benefits over a longer period of
time, the benefits will be paid out at a lower rate;
expectant mothers can claim EI maternity benefits up to 12
weeks before their due date (it is currently up to eight weeks
prior to the due date);
a new EI caregiving benefit, which gives eligible caregivers up
to 15 weeks of EI benefits when temporarily away from work to
support a critically ill or injured family member; and
broadening worker eligibility for EI-funded skills training and
Federal accessibility legislation will be developed toward the
promotion and inclusion of employees with disabilities in the
1. Limited Scope of Proposed Changes
While the proposed amendments to the Employment Insurance
Act apply generally to all employers, amendments to the
Canada Labour Code will only apply to employers that
operate in federally-regulated sectors.
2. Provincial Ripple Effect
Several provinces are currently conducting reviews of their own
labour and employment laws, with a view towards reform. In Ontario,
the Changing Workplaces Review, which considers
amendments to both the Labour Relations Act and the
Employment Standards Act, is in its final stages.
Similarly, Alberta began a review of its equivalent employment and
labour relations legislation this
It will be interesting to watch how the provincial legislatures
respond to the changes proposed by the federal government. The
employment standards legislation (e.g., Ontario
Employment Standards Act, 2000) in most provinces
currently entitles an employee to up to 52 weeks of maternity
(pregnancy/parental) leave. Unless the provincial legislatures
amend their respective employment standards legislation, there
could be a situation where the employee may extend their maternity
leave benefits under the Employment Insurance Act for up
to 18 months, but the employee is only permitted a statutory leave
of 52 weeks or 12 months under employment standards legislation. In
the absence of changes to provincial employment standards
legislation employers should expect requests by employees to grant
the employee an extended voluntary leave so the employee's
maternity leave can match the period in which the employee is
entitled to EI benefits.
3. It's in the Details
The 2017 budget amendments are, generally, still in their
proposed form. The exact provisions in the legislative amendments
and manner of application are not yet known and we will update you
further as the specific legislative changes are outlined in more
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The arbitrator's decision covered a number of issues including whether the termination was appropriate and whether the City had breached the grievor's human rights. The following, however, will focus on the privacy issue raised.
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