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2016 – Looking forward, looking back

2016 calendarAs the first blog post of the year, I thought it apt to first wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and second, to take the opportunity to take a quick look back and a long look forward at what might be coming down the road this year in human resources policy.

There are a few key issues which I believe we will see developments this year in most jurisdictions who haven’t already done so:

Gender identity and expression

Many jurisdictions already have human rights provisions protecting individuals from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression (including Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island). British Columbia’s private member’s bill, Bill M-228, however, has languished after first reading on July 20, 2015. It is likely that all jurisdictions will continue to see increased human rights complaints in this regard.

Extension of compassionate care leave

Effective January 3, 2016, the federal government has increased EI benefits for compassionate care leave benefits from eight weeks to twenty-eight weeks (each including a two-week waiting period). To date Manitoba and Nova Scotia have tabled legislation to increase the provincially-mandated employment leave provisions for compassionate care and I expect most other jurisdictions will follow suit.

Domestic violence, sexual violence and harassment

Ontario has been broadcasting public education ads in this regard and has tabled Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2015 . Manitoba has also included provisions to create Domestic Violence Leave for employees in its Bill 8 amendments to the Employment Standards Act.

2015 summary review

I also want to do a quick summary review of where some provinces left things in 2015:

Federal

The new parliamentary session (with the new Liberal majority government) began Dec. 3, 2015 and wrapped up Dec. 11, 2015. It is scheduled to reconvene on Jan. 25, 2016. Bill C -68, which would have added genetic testing to protected grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act died on the Order Paper. There were no further developments in accessing the Compensation for Reservists program. The Speech from the Throne included promises to enhance CPP and modernize Employment Insurance.

Nova Scotia

The Legislative Assembly adjourned on Dec. 14, 2015. Bill 127 received 3rd Reading on Dec. 8, 2015 and, when passed, will provide extended compassionate care leave to 28 weeks and extended bereavement leave under the Labour Standards Code.

Prince Edward Island

The provincial legislature adjourned on December 2, 2105, however it gave Royal Assent to Bill 39 to amend the Employment Standards Act to provide unpaid leave for Critically Ill Child Care and Crime-Related Child Death or Disappearance purposes.

Ontario

Key developments in Ontario this year include Bill 56, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Act, 2015 which received Royal Assent on May 5, 2015 with target start up of Jan. 1, 2017, and Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2015 which received 2nd reading on Dec. 9, 2015. The Legislature will resume on Feb. 16, 2016

Manitoba

Manitoba legislature adjourned Dec. 3, 2015 and will begin again on Feb. 24, 2016. Even though it passed Bill 26 Accessibility for Manitobans Act on December 5, 2013, it introduced its Customer Service Standard Regulation in October 2015, in force Nov. 1, 2015, with compliance dates of 1 year for government, 2 years for government agencies, universities, colleges municipalities etc., and 3 years for all other organizations with one or more employees. It also gave 2nd Reading on December 3, 2015 to Bill 8 which amends the Employment Standards Code to extend compassionate care leave to 28 weeks, and to create serious illness leave and domestic violence leave.

Alberta

Prior to adjourning for the year on December 11, 2015, the Alberta legislature gave Royal Assent to Bill 6, Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, (in force Jan. 1, 2016) to give farm workers protections offered other workers under the Employment Standards Code, Labour Relations Code, Occupational Health and Safety Act and Workers Compensation Regulations, where they had previously been exempt. In addition, Bill 7 was given Royal Assent to add gender identity and gender expression to the Alberta Human Rights Act.

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HR PolicyPro

The Human Resources PolicyPro will keep on top of these developments and will continue to bring you new policies and policy updates as developments happen. Check it out here.

Michele Glassford

VP and Managing Editor at DRH and Lawyer at MacKinnon Law Associates
Michele Glassford, is a lawyer, researcher and policy analyst with a background in employment and labour law.In addition to a part-time law practice in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Michele has worked in the field of labour adjustment for the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Program and has been a Researcher for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Michele also holds the position of VP and Managing Editor at D.R. Hancocks & Associates Inc., author of the Human Resources PolicyPros. Read more
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