Canada: The Latest In Employment Law: 2017 Atlantic Canada Legislative Update

As 2017 comes to a close, please find below a summary of significant 2017 legislative amendments in each of the Atlantic Canadian provinces as well as federally, along with a review of legislative trends in Atlantic Canada.

1. NEW BRUNSWICK

Human Rights Act

Amendments to the NB Human Rights Act which took effect on May 5, 2017 include:

  • the addition of family status and gender identity or expression as protected grounds;
  • the grant of authority to the Commission to dismiss complaints if the complainant has declined a "fair and reasonable" settlement offer; and
  • the protection against discrimination in employment now protects against discrimination by a "person" rather than simply by an "employer".

The scope and effect of this latter change remains to be seen. Similar amendments to BC legislation are presently before the Supreme Court of Canada in Schrenk v. British Columbia.

In Schrenk, two employees, S and SM, worked on the same construction job site but for separate employers. They had no employment relationship with each other and one did not supervise the other. After repeated discriminatory remarks by S, SM filed a human rights complaint alleging discrimination in employment by S and S's employer. The Human Rights Tribunal and British Columbia Supreme Court both found that, because the statute referred to "person" rather than "employer", S could proceed with his complaint even though he was not in an employment relationship with either of the respondents. The British Columbia Court of Appeal reversed, finding that the lack of employment relationship between the complainant and respondents was such that the alleged misconduct could not constitute "discrimination in employment". The case was argued before the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in March of 2017, but no decision has been issued.

This decision will be instructive for interpretation of the scope of the expanded language now existing in New Brunswick.

Bill 4 – An Act to Amend the Industrial Relations Act

On October 25, 2017, the New Brunswick government introduced amendments to the Industrial Relations Act which include first contract arbitration. Historically, arbitration respecting the negotiation of collective agreements in New Brunswick has only be available for the renegotiation of existing contracts. This proposed legislation would give both sides the ability to request arbitration where they are unable to negotiate a first collective agreement on their own.

All other Canadian provinces except New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island provide first contract arbitration. PEI has passed similar legislation, but it has not yet been proclaimed into force.

2. NOVA SCOTIA

Labour Standards Code

The following amendments to the Labour Standards Code came into force on January 1, 2017:

  • Record keeping: Employers are no longer required to keep a record of employees' sex, but are required to keep records of each employee's social insurance number, gross earnings, general holiday pay and leaves of absence (section 15).
  • Electronic pay statements: Employers who issue electronic pay statements must provide employees with confidential access to same and a means to make a paper copy (section 15A).

Occupational Health and Safety Act

In June of 2017, the following amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act took effect.

  • If a person has repeatedly contravened the Act or regulations or failed to comply with an order and there is a risk of serious injury or death, the Director of Occupational Health and Safety now has the power to order disclosure of workplace details (section 52A) and officers now have the power to extend work stoppage orders to the employer's other workplaces (section 55);
  • Shorter maximum time frames to report workplace accidents (section 63):

    • 24 hours for a fire, flood or accident that results in injuries (unless sufficiently minor that the employee is treated with first aid and returns to work the following day);
    • 24 hours for an accidental explosion, a structural failure or building collapse, a major release of a hazardous substance, or a fall where fall protection was required; and
    • immediate notification in the event of a fatality.
  • Granting of power to the Director to seek a Court injunction to require the person to comply with an order or restrain a person from continuing to contravene the Act or from carrying on an industry or activity for a specific time (section 75A).

3. PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Workers Compensation Act

On December 31, 2016 a change in the regulations under the Workers Compensation Act removed the occupation of "farming" from the list of workers and industries excluded from the application of the Act. Accordingly, since January 1, 2017 the Act and its regulations now apply to farm workers and the farming industry.

4. NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

With the exception of those discussed in the legislative trends below, there were no significant legislative amendments in Newfoundland this year.

5. FEDERAL

Changes to Leave Benefits for Federal Employees

Changes to benefits under the Federal Employment Insurance Act and are set to come into force on December 3, 2017:

  • Maternity benefits can now be paid as early as 12 weeks before an expected due date (extended from the prior limit of 8 weeks).
  • Parents now have more flexibility with regard to the length of their leave by choosing between receiving parental benefits at (1) the traditional rate of 55% of weekly insurable earning for 35 weeks; or (2) a new rate of 33% for up to 61 weeks.
  • An adult caregiver benefit has been created to allow family members care for a critically ill adult for up to 15 weeks in a year.
  • Benefits to care for a critically ill child may now be paid to family members, rather than only parents.

The pre-existing rules remain in force for any benefit periods which began prior to December 3, 2017. Similar changes to the leave provisions of the Canada Labour Code will also come into force on this date.

Proposed Changes to Canada Labour Code Respecting Harassment and Violence

On November 7, 2017, the Federal Government put forward Bill C-65 which proposes to amend the Canada Labour Code to strengthen protections against harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in the work place. Some proposed changes include:

  • Employers would have an obligation to investigate, record and report all occurrences of harassment or violence known to the employer, in accordance with the regulations.
  • Employers would be required take prescribed measures to prevent and protect against harassment and violence in the work place, respond to such occurrences and offer support to affected employees.
  • The Minister would be required to investigate a complaint relating to an occurrence of harassment or violence where the supervisor and employee failed to resolve the complaint between themselves, unless the Minister believed the complaint had already been adequately dealt with, or the matter was trivial, frivolous or vexatious.
  • Employers would be restricted in their ability under the Code to provide health and safety representatives with information likely to reveal the identity of a person involved in an occurrence of harassment or violence in the workplace, without that person's consent.

LEGISLATIVE TRENDS IN ATLANTIC CANADA

Athletes and Employment Standards

Each of the Maritime Provinces have been implementing or considering changes to their employment standards legislation regarding athletes to exempt student, amateur and professional athletes from certain protections. Those in favour of the amendments argue that sports teams cannot afford to operate if they must pay athletes a minimum wage or pay them for practice time or travel time. The amendments appear aimed at striking a balance between granting some legislative protections to athletes, but not in relation to minimum wage, hours of work, vacations or termination.

Nova Scotia was the first to make such changes. In the summer of 2016, the regulations under the Labour Standards Code were amended so that provisions of the Code relating to minimum wage, vacation pay, paid holidays, minimum wages, hours of work and termination do not apply to athletes.

New Brunswick made similar amendments to the regulations under the Employment Standards Act this past summer.

In PEI, there is currently a Bill before the Legislative Assembly such that the Employment Standards Act would only apply to athletes in respect of pay and protection of pay.

Presumptions in favour of emergency workers

Three of the four Atlantic Provinces have amended their workers compensation legislation to make it easier for emergency workers to access workers compensation benefits for certain types of diagnoses.

In Newfoundland, amendments to the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act on January 1, 2017 created a presumption that, if a firefighter becomes disabled or dies as a result of a listed disease (including brain cancer, bladder cancer, colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, kidney cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, testicular cancer, ureter cancer and breast cancer), that the disease resulted from the firefighter's employment.

In New Brunswick, amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act in June 28, 2016 created a presumption that a firefighter, paramedic or police officer diagnosed with PTSD suffers same as a result of his or her employment.

In Nova Scotia, Bill No. 7 (2017) is currently before the Legislature. If passed, the Workers' Compensation Act will be amended so that "front-line" or "emergency-response" workers (which includes continuing-care assistants, correctional officers, emergency-response dispatchers, firefighters, nurses, paramedics and police officers) diagnosed with PTSD will be presumed to have suffered PTSD through their employment.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
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).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions