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Welcome to 2019 with new employment and labour law rules and obligations across Canada: A summary

new employment and labour law rules

Welcome to 2019 and a load of new employment and labour law rules and obligations across Canada.

As most of you already know, a number of new or amended employment related laws and regulations came into effect on January 1 or will come into force later in 2019 across Canada, including major changes to the Canada Labour Code and enhancement of the CPP and QPP contribution rates. Here is a brief summary of the new or amended rules by jurisdiction that you need to be aware of and implement to ensure compliance.

1. Federal/National (applicable across all jurisdictions)

I. Canada Pension Plan enhancement

Contributions to the enhanced Canada Pension Plan begin on January 1, 2019. Legislative and regulatory changes have increased the rate for employees and employers from 4.95 percent to 5.10 percent with self-employed persons paying double that. In addition, indexation has resulted in higher maximum contributory earnings ($57,400 for 2019 vs $55,900 for 2018). Combining both increases results in a maximum contribution of $2,748.90 for employees and employers in 2019 (up almost six percent from $2,593.80 in 2018). For the self-employed, the maximum contribution likewise increases from $5,157.60 to $5,497.50. The inflation adjustment is required to ensure that the contributor’s pension entitlement is also indexed to inflation when CPP benefits are received in retirement. The additional three percent increase in the premium rate in 2019 is designed to eventually increase the pension entitlement from 25 percent of the employee’s average pensionable earning to 33 percent of average pensionable earnings. For each year of contributions at the higher rate (5.1 percent starting in 2019; increasing again to 5.25 percent in 2020, 5.45 percent in 2021, 5.70 percent in 2022 and 5.95 percent in 2023), contributors will earn an increase in their pensionable earnings of about 0.8 percent. The target 33 percent of pensionable earnings will not be reached until 2058.

II. A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (introduced as Bill C-86)

Bill C-86 received royal assent on December 13, 2018, to make changes to:

  • The Employment Insurance Act to introduce the new EI parental sharing benefit: The new EI provisions (Division 8 of Part 4 of Bill C-86) are set to come into force around March 2019, to increase the maximum number of weeks from 35 to 40 weeks and from 61 to 69 weeks for which parental benefits may be paid if these benefits are divided between claimants—depending on the selection they make for the sharing of parental EI benefits.
  • The Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPPA) (a program to provide for payments to individuals in respect of wages owed to them by employers who are insolvent) that provides timely payment of eligible wages, up to an amount equalling four weeks maximum insurable earnings under the Employment Insurance Act will increase the maximum financial support provided to workers who are owed wages when their employer files for bankruptcy or enters receivership. The increase to the maximum payment applies retroactively to bankruptcies or receiverships that occurred on or after February 27, 2018, the day the budget was tabled. It will also expand the definition of eligible wages and conditions under which a payment may be made under the Act. The WEPPA provisions will come into force by proclamation in the next 18 months.

2. Federally regulated workplaces

Although A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures (introduced as Bill C-86) enacted changes to the Canada Labour Code (employment standards for federally regulated workplaces), the changes that were found in a previous law, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2 (introduced as Bill 63) have still not come into force and may be proclaimed in force during 2019. Below you will find a summary of what to expect under Bill 63 and 86 in the next 18 months.

I. Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2 (Bill 63)

In 2017, the Canadian Government made a number of changes to the Canada Labour Code that addressed the need for increased flexibility in the workplace. Bill C-63, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2, received royal assent on December 14, 2017. And as stated before, many of its changes have not yet come into force. The Bill C-63 changes were in response to the Harry W Arthurs, Fairness at Work: Federal Labour Standards for the 21st Century (Gatineau, QC: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2006) referred to as the Arthurs Report. To date, the Arthurs Report remains the most comprehensive review of Part III of the Canada Labour Code. Moreover, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2 (Bill 63), includes amendments to the Canada Labour Code that will, when in force, permit time off in lieu of overtime pay, allow for the right to refuse overtime due to family obligations, provide notice of shift changes, outline how employees must take their vacations, add more unpaid leaves, and allow employees to request flexible work arrangements, among other things.

Specifically, Bill C-63, when in force, amends the Canada Labour Code as follows:

Standard and maximum work schedule:

  • Setting, changing or cancelling work schedules that exceed the standard hours of work. Specifically, an employer may, in respect of one or more employees’ subject or not subject to a collective agreement, establish, modify or cancel a work schedule under which the hours exceed the standard hours of work. The schedule, or its modification or cancellation, must be approved by at least 70 percent of the affected employees or in the case of one employee’s schedule, in writing by that employee. 
  • Providing the employer with a formal right to, in respect of one or more employees’ subject or not subject to a collective agreement, establish, modify or cancel a work schedule under which the hours exceed the maximum. The schedule, or its modification or cancellation must be approved by at least 70 percent of the affected employees or in the case of one employee’s schedule, in writing by that employee. 
  • Providing employees with at least 24 hours’ notice of a change in shift. If an employer changes a period or shift during which an employee is due to work or adds another work period or shift to the employee’s schedule, the employer shall give the employee written notice of the change or addition at least 24 hours before. Specifically, when in the case of a change where the employee’s original work period or shift is to begin or, if the work period or shift that results from the change is to begin earlier than the original work period or shift, then before the period or shift that results from when the change is to begin; and in the case of an addition, the work period or shift that was added is to begin. However, this rule does not apply if the change to or addition of a work period or shift is necessary to deal with a situation that the employer could not have reasonably foreseen and that presents or could reasonably be expected to present an imminent or serious situation such as a threat to the life, health or safety of any person; threat of damage to or loss of property; or threat of serious interference with the ordinary working of the employer’s industrial establishment.

Overtime requirements

  • Clarifying overtime provisions including banking overtime to use at a later date, and providing employees with a right to refuse overtime in order to fulfill a family responsibility. An employee may refuse to work the overtime requested by the employer in order to fulfill any family responsibility. An employee may refuse to work overtime only if:
    • they have taken reasonable steps to carry out their family responsibility by other means, so as to enable them to work overtime; and
    • even though the steps have been taken, they are still required to carry out that responsibility during the period of the overtime.

Flexible work arrangements

  • Providing employees with a formal right to request flexible work arrangements from their employers, specifically, an employee who has completed six consecutive months of continuous employment with an employer may request from the employer a change to the following terms and conditions of employment:
    • the number of hours that the employee is required to work;
    • the employee’s work schedule;
    • the employee’s location of work; and
    • any terms and conditions that apply to the employee and that are prescribed by regulation.

The request must be in writing and include specific information found in law and regulation.

An employer can grant the request or offer to grant the request in part or to make an alternative change to the terms and conditions of employment; or refuse the request on certain grounds such as the requested change will result in additional costs that will be a burden on the employer.

Vacation

  • A vacation granted to an employee is to be taken only in one period or, if the employee makes a request in writing and the employer approves it in writing, in more than one period. The amendment requires that the employer pay to the employee if the vacation is taken:
    • in one period, the vacation pay to which the employee is entitled in respect of that vacation, or 
    • in more than one period, for each period, the proportion of the vacation pay that the vacation taken is of the annual vacation to which the employee is entitled.
  • An employee may interrupt his or her vacation in order to take a statutory leave of absence or employer provided leave. The employee must provide the employer with written notice of the interruption before or as soon as possible after the interruption begins. An employee who interrupts their vacation and who intends to resume it immediately after the interruption ends must provide the employer with written notice of the day on which they resume their vacation before or as soon as possible after that day.  
  • Notwithstanding the above rules, an employee may postpone their vacation until after the day on which a leave of absence is taken. An employee who intends to postpone their vacation shall, as soon as possible, provide the employer with prior written notice of the postponement.

Substitution of public holiday

  • An employer may, in respect of one or more employees subject to a collective agreement, substitute any other day for a general holiday if the substitution is agreed to in writing by the employer and the trade union, and the substituted day must, for that employee or those employees, be deemed to be a general holiday. 
  • An employer may, in respect of one or more employees not subject to a collective agreement, substitute any other day for a general holiday and the substituted day must, for that employee or those employees, be deemed to be a general holiday, if the substitution has been approved:
    • in the case of a substitution that affects one employee, by that employee in writing; or 
    • in the case of a substitution that affects more than one employee, by at least 70 percent of the affected employees.
    • If any other day is to be substituted for a general holiday, the employer must post a notice of the substitution in a readily accessible place where it is likely to be seen by the affected employees for at least 30 days before the substitution takes effect.

Family responsibility leave

  • The Canada Labour Code is being amended to add a new three-day unpaid leave for family responsibility leave in every calendar year for employees with three consecutive months of continuous employment with an employer.  The leave is to carry out the employee’s responsibilities related to:
    • the health or care of any of their family members; or  
    • the education of any of their family members who are less than 18 years of age.

Leave for victims of family violence (domestic violence leave)

  • The Canada Labour Code is being amended to add a new 10-day unpaid leave for victims of family violence. However, an employee is not entitled to a leave of absence with respect to any act of family violence if the employee is charged with an offence related to that act or if it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the employee committed that act. The leave must be taken in order to enable the employee, in respect of such violence:
    • to seek medical attention for themselves or their child in respect of a physical or psychological injury or disability; 
    • to obtain services from an organization which provides services to victims of family violence;
    • to obtain psychological or other professional counselling;
    • to relocate temporarily or permanently; 
    • to seek legal or law enforcement assistance or to prepare for or participate in any civil or criminal legal proceeding; or
    • to take any measures prescribed by regulation.

Leave for traditional aboriginal practices

  • The Canada Labour Code is being amended to add a new three-day unpaid leave for traditional Aboriginal practices. For the purposes of the Code and the leave, Aboriginal means Indian, Inuit or Métis. Every employee who is an Aboriginal person and who has completed three consecutive months of continuous employment with an employer is entitled to and must be granted a leave of absence from employment of up to five days in every calendar year, in order to enable the employee to engage in traditional Aboriginal practices, including:
    • hunting; 
    • fishing;
    • harvesting; and
    • any practice prescribed by regulation.

Changes to bereavement leave

  • An amendment will extend the current paid bereavement leave by an additional two unpaid days, and extend the time period in which bereavement leave can be taken. Therefore, every employee is entitled to, in the event of a death in their immediate family, a leave of absence from employment of up to five days that may be taken during the period that begins on the day on which the death occurs and ends six weeks after the latest of the days on which any funeral, burial or memorial service of that immediate family member occurs. If the employee has completed three consecutive months of continuous employment with the employer, the employee is entitled to the first three days of the leave with pay at their regular rate of wages for their normal hours of work, and such pay must for all purposes be considered to be wages. At the request of the employee, the employer may extend, in writing, the period during which the leave of absence from employment may be taken. 

Additional remarks

Additionally, Bill C-63 repeals amendments to the Canada Labour Code passed by the previous Conservative government that had not yet been brought into force. These changes will have allowed for short-term internships, other than those administered through a college or university, in limited situations.

II. Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 (Bill C-86)

The Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 (Bill C-86) adds to the above Canada Labour Code amendments, and when in force will improve employees’ eligibility for entitlements to general holiday pay, sick leave, maternity leave and parental leave. It also improves work-life balance by introducing new breaks and leaves, including a new 5-day personal leave and five days of paid leave for victims of family violence. Changes will also ensure that employees in precarious work are paid equally and have fair access to the same entitlements as their full-time counterparts. Specifically,

Changes to leaves of absences

  • The minimum length of service requirements for sick, maternity, parental, critical illness leaves and leave related to death or disappearance of a child will be eliminated.
  • The minimum length of service requirements for reserve force member leaves will also be reduced from six to three months. Reserve force members will be entitled to take a leave of absence to take part in certain activities and operations.
  • Employees who divided their parental leave will be entitled to an increased amount of aggregate parental leave from 63 to 71 weeks. Similarly, employees who divided their leaves will be entitled to an increased amount of aggregate maternity and parental leave from 78 to 86 weeks.
  • Employees will also be entitled to take the following new paid and unpaid leaves of absence:  
    • five day paid leave for victims of family violence;  
    • five day personal leave (three days paid);
    • court or jury duty leave; and
    • medical leave of up to 17 weeks due to:
      • personal illness or injury;
      • organ or tissue donation; or 
      • medical appointments during work hours.

Changes to hours of work

  • Unpaid break of 30 minutes for every five hours of work   
  • Minimum eight-hour rest period between work periods or shift
  • Unpaid breaks for breastfeeding, pumping breastmilk or medical reasons

Employers also will have a new obligation, subject to the terms of any relevant collective agreement, to provide employees with at least 96 hours of advance written notice of their work schedule. If such notice is not provided, employees will have a right to refuse this work subject to exceptions. For example, an employee could not refuse this work if the employee needed to work in order to deal with a situation that the employer could not have reasonably foreseen and that presented, or could reasonably be expected to present, an imminent or serious threat.

Changes to minimum age of employment

Bill C-86 will increase the minimum age for employment from 17 to 18 years of age except in rare circumstances. For example, employees under 18 years of age could only be employed in an industrial establishment under certain conditions prescribed by regulation.

Changes to equal treatment

Bill C-86 will require employers to provide employees with an equal rate of wages if:

  • The employees work in the same industrial establishment;  
  • The employees perform substantially the same kind of work;
  • The performance of that work requires substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility; and
  • Their work is performed under similar working conditions.

To comply with this new equal rate of wages obligation, employers will increase but could not lower an employee’s rate of wages. Employers will not have to increase an employee’s rate if the difference in rate was due to seniority, merit or the quantity or quality of each employee’s production.

Employees will have the right to request a review of their rate of wages.

Changes to vacation

Bill C-86 will reduce the length of continuous service requirement for three weeks’ paid vacation from six to five years. It will also provide employees with four weeks’ paid vacation after 10 or more years of service.

Transfer and retendering

Bill C-86 will treat an employee’s length of service as continuous regarding a federal work, undertaking or business if:

  • Contract retendering occurred within the federal sector; or  
  • The employee’s employment was transferred within the federal sector or from a provincially regulated employer to a federally regulated employer.

Temporary help agencies

Bill C-86 will provide temporary help agency employees who perform work in the industrial establishments of their employers’ clients with a rate of wages not less than the rate the client pays to its employee if:

  • They work in the same industrial establishment; 
  • They perform substantially the same kind of work;  
  • The performance of that work requires substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility; and  
  • Their work is performed under similar working conditions.

To comply with this new rate of wages obligation, employers could increase but could not lower an employee’s rate. Employers will not have to increase an employee’s rate if the difference in rate was due to seniority, merit or the quantity or quality of each employee’s production.

Employees will have the right to request a review of their rate of wages.

Employers could not charge their employees fees for becoming employees, being assigned work for clients, completing any assignment or job preparation duties or establishing an employment relationship with a client. Employers also could not prevent their employees from establishing an employment relationship with a client and could not charge that client a fee for establishing an employment relationship with the employee if the employee’s first assignment with the client started more than six months before the day the client established the employment relationship with the employee.

Termination of employment

Bill C-86 will provide employees with at least three months of service with:

  • Two to eight weeks’ written notice of termination; 
  • Two to eight weeks’ pay in lieu of notice at their regular rate of wages for their regular hours of work; or
  • A combination of the two, equivalent to at least two to eight weeks depending on length of service.

The aforementioned entitlements will not apply to employees whose employment was terminated for just cause or as part of a group termination of employment.

For group terminations of 50 or more employees within any four-week period, employers will have to provide either:

  • At least 16 weeks’ written notice of a group termination of employment (before the termination date of the first employee in the group to have their employment terminated) first to the Minister and then immediately to the group of employees by providing a copy of this written notice to:
    • the trade union representing the group employees; or
    • to the unrepresented group of employees directly or by posting the notice in a conspicuous place within the industrial establishment where they work.
    • at least 48 hours’ written notice of a group termination of employment, where the employment of all of the group employees was terminated on the same day, to the Minister and then to the group of employees by providing them with:
    • at least 16 weeks’ pay in lieu of notice; and
    • written notice to the trade union representing the group of employees and directly to the unrepresented group employees.

In addition, employers will have to provide the group of employees with:

  • At least eight weeks’ written notice of termination, pay in lieu of notice or a combination of the two; and  
  • Transitional support measures if pay in lieu of notice or a combination of pay in lieu of notice and written notice was provided.

If written notice or a combination of written notice and pay in lieu of notice was provided, employers could not change any term of the group employees’ employment without their written consent and will have to pay them their regular rate of wages for their regular hours of work until their termination date.

Reimbursement of work-related expenses

Bill C-86 will provide employees with reimbursement for reasonable work-related expenses.

Information related to employment

Bill C-86 will require employers to:

  • Provide their employees within the first 30 days of their employment with a written employment statement as well as materials that the Minister makes available and that contain information respecting employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations; 
     
  • Provide employees with their updated employment statement within 30 days after any change was made to it;
     
  • Provide employees with any updated materials within 30 days after they were made available;
     
  • Post and keep posted the updated materials in readily accessible areas where they are likely to be seen by employees;
     
  • Provide terminated employees with the updated materials with respect to termination no later than the termination date;
     
  • Retain a copy of terminated employee employment statements for 36 months after the termination date; and
     
  • Provide copies of terminated employee employment statements upon request.

Compliance and enforcement

Bill C-86 will amend the various compliance and enforcement processes by, among other things:

  • Establishing a new Head of Compliance and Enforcement; 
  • Broadening the scope of health care practitioners who could issue medical certificates;
  • Prescribing the scope of complaints;
  • Prescribing the deadlines and extension periods for making complaints;
  • Prescribing that no order could be made, process entered into or proceeding taken in court to question, review, prohibit or restrain the Board’s proceedings; and
  • Acknowledging that an order of the Board could be filed and registered in the Federal Court and will have the same force and effect as if it were a judgment obtained in that Court.

III. Federal Pay Equity Act

The Budget Implementation Act, 2018 (Bill C-86) also creates the Act to Establish a Proactive Pay Equity Regime within the Federal Public and Private Sectors (Pay Equity Act) that will establish a proactive approach to achieve pay equity and will require employers falling within its scope to actively examine their compensation practices to ensure that men and women are compensated equally for work of equal value. Affected employers with at least 10 employees will have three years to come up with a pay equity plan. The new Pay Equity Act when in force will also amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act (PESRA). The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and will play both education and enforcement roles with regard to the legislation. The PESRA will incorporate references to the new Pay Equity Act when in force to ensure that the legislation applies to parliamentary workplaces and ensure that compliance and enforcement provisions will respect parliamentary privilege.

3. Alberta

I. Youth employment rules in force January 1, 2019

On June 7, 2017, the Alberta government enacted new rules for the employment of minors in the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act (introduced as Bill 17). Part 2, Division 9 of the Employment Standards Code (Code) and Part 5 of the Regulation outline the rules for employing youth under 18. However, these rules were not proclaimed in force until now. On December 6, 2018, by orders in Council, the government proclaimed the new provisions regarding the employment of minors under the Alberta Code in force effective January 1, 2019. Changes include that with the exception of artistic endeavours, youth under the age of 13 are not allowed to work. Youth under 13 years of age will be allowed to be employed in artistic endeavours, such as a theatre production, with a permit. In addition, the consent of a parent or guardian is required. Furthermore, restrictions on hours of work and type of work to be performed by youth under the age of 18, with a particular emphasis on the health and safety of the employee are regulated.

 II. Steps to ban mandatory high heels in the workplace

The Alberta government has taken steps to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Code to ensure employees will be able to wear shoes that put safety over style. According to an Alberta press release, amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Code explicitly prohibit employers from requiring workers to use footwear that may pose health and safety risks.

The Alberta workplace fact sheet regarding hazardous footwear states, “footwear that differs from what is worn for everyday use can put workers at an increased risk of injuries from slips, trips, and falls.” It also states that employers must assess all worksite hazards, including those related to footwear. In addition, workers are required to take reasonable steps to protect their health and safety, which extends to their footwear choices.

The new rule, effective January 1, 2019, does not apply to mandatory footwear for safety reasons, such as steel-toed footwear required on construction sites, nor is it intended to interfere with a worker’s choice of footwear. If the work environment is suitable and it is safe for them to do so, workers can voluntarily wear high-heeled shoes or other forms of footwear.

4. British Columbia         

I. Certificate of Recognition Program

On November 22, 2018, the Board of Directors approved new policies for the Certificate of Recognition program. The COR program is effective January 1, 2019, and WorkSafeBC is responsible for implementing and overseeing it. The COR program is a voluntary employer certification program designed to encourage employers in British Columbia to take a proactive role in occupational health and safety. The COR certificate is issued by the Board to an employer who has successfully implemented an effective occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) and has passed a certification audit to the standards set out by the Board in the Program’s practice materials. According to the policy, an OHSMS is a structured approach to managing occupational health and safety and improving the management of workplace hazards and risks that is based on a “plan-do-check-act” cycle. It requires the employer’s commitment to the system, worker participation, effective allocation of resources and a process of continual improvement. An employer’s COR certificate is valid for three years. Once an employer receives a COR in a given year, annual maintenance audits are required for the following two years to maintain certification.

Employers registered in the COR Program who meet program requirements achieve a COR and may be eligible to receive a financial incentive. An employer with a valid COR certification is eligible to receive a financial incentive for each year in which they hold a COR and have none of the exceptions to the COR financial incentive eligibility criteria. Financial incentives are calculated using 10% of the employer’s base assessment premiums for each classification unit included in the employer’s COR. The minimum annual financial incentive is the lesser of $1,000 or 75 percent of the premiums paid by the employer for the financial incentive year being calculated.

II. Human Rights Commission coming back

On November 27, 2018, Bill 50, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act 2018 received royal assent and is now law and in force. Bill 50 creates an office of the Human Rights Commissioner, who will head the new Human Rights Commission.

The powers of the Commissioner are numerous, but are focused on the protection of human rights. Where the Human Rights Tribunal has been granted the limited jurisdiction to investigate specific complaints of discrimination, the Commissioner is expected to take a proactive role in, for example, identifying and promoting the elimination of discriminatory practices, policies, and programs, with a view to broad and systemic issues.

The previous limitation period for filing human rights complaints is extended from six months to one year.

In 2019, we will be hearing more on the establishment and role of the British Columbia Human Rights Commission.

III. Bill to protect temporary foreign workers from exploitation

On November 8, 2018, the British Columbia government passed Bill 48 to protect foreign workers from exploitation and abuse by employers and recruiters. Provisions of Bill 48 will be proclaimed in force sometime in 2019, when the Ministry of Labour has established the foreign worker recruiter and employer registries. Specifically, Bill 48 when in force will:

  • Require foreign worker recruiters to be licensed, and employers who recruit and hire temporary foreign workers to be registered.
  • Establish criteria for issuing, refusing, suspending or cancelling a licence or registration.
  • Impose tougher penalties for recruiters and employers who violate the legislation, including not just loss of licence or registration but financial penalties and possible jail time.
  • Allow government to recover, and return to workers, any fees charged illegally by recruiters.
  • Create two registries, one for foreign worker recruiters and one for employers, to hold both accountable for their actions and to improve government response to health, housing or other violations of British Columbia laws. The registration will be a cost-free and simple online process for employers.

IV. Employer health tax legislation

On November 8, 2018, Bill 44 to enact the Employer Health Tax Act, 2018 received royal assent. As a result, effective January 1, 2019, employers will pay a health tax on the remuneration paid by employers to or on behalf of employees that report for work in British Columbia. The EHT will replace the current Medical Services Plan borne by individual British Columbians, although such payments are often covered by employer benefit plans. The tax is paid at a rate of 1.95 percent of the remuneration paid by the employer during the calendar year. If the remuneration paid by the employer is less than $500,000, no tax is payable. If the remuneration paid by the employer is greater than $500,000 but not greater than $1,500,000, tax is paid at a rate of 2.925 percent of the amount by which the remuneration paid exceeds $500,000. Employers with BC remuneration above the exemption amount in a calendar year must register for the employer health tax. Registration begins January 7, 2019. Once registered, employers will receive an employer health tax account number. Once an employer has registered to pay the employer health tax, the employer can file and pay its tax returns online using eTaxBC. Subject to certain exceptions, employers must file and pay their first return by March 31, 2020.

V. Minimum wage increase

On the recommendations of the Fair Wages Commission, British Columbia is increasing the minimum wage to $15.20 per hour by June 2021. The general minimum wage and the other minimum wage rates are increasing on June 1, 2019. The Fair Wages Commission recommended the following schedule of increases to the general minimum wage rate (this has been confirmed by amendments to Section 15 of the Employment Standards Regulation, B.C. Reg. 396/95, orders in council 040, February 8, 2018):

  • June 1, 2019: $13.85 ($1.20 increase/9.5%)
  • June 1, 2020: $14.60 ($0.75 increase/5.4%)
  • June 1, 2021: $15.20 ($0.60 increase/4.1%)

Depending on economic conditions, the commission recommended that government consider an additional hourly increase of up to $.20, to $15.40 an hour in 2021.

VI. Several more changes are anticipated in 2019

  • On October 25, 2018, the British Columbia government made public recommendations that would bring about changes to British Columbia’s Labour Relations Code. The independent report makes 29 recommendations covering a wide range of topics, such as union certification processes, dispute resolution, successorship, unfair labour practices and arbitration procedures.
  • The British Columbia government is consulting with the public and interested stakeholders on a full range of potential reform options for solvency funding rules for defined benefit pension plans registered in British Columbia.
  • In 2014, the British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) initiated a three-year independent review of the Employment Standards Act to examine if employment legislation has kept up with the recent boom in precarious work, and to improve workers’ rights and modernize employment standards in the province. Results from this review by the British Columbia Law Institute indicate that the province’s legislation on employment standards is out of date and doesn’t reflect the pressures people face in the modern workplace. BC’s labour minister is reviewing the recommendations and pledging action in 2019 to implement certain of the 71 recommendations found in the BCLI final report.

5. New Brunswick

I. Amendment to workers’ compensation system

On December 12, 2018, Bill 2, An Act Respecting Addressing Recommendations in the Report of the Task Force on WorkSafeNB was enacted to address changes to the law governing the Crown corporation. The amendments in Bill 2 are designed to ensure that benefits for injured workers are protected while offering financial stability for the province’s employers. Moreover, the amendments introduced will:

  • restore policy deference to WorkSafeNB’s board of directors;
  • clearly establish that the intent of the workers’ compensation system is to compensate for only work-related injuries;
  • gradually eliminate the unpaid three-day waiting period for injured workers; and
  • address the recovery of the Accident Fund deficit to mitigate the risk of significant increases to the assessment rates.

Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder said that, “Eliminating the unpaid wait period will provide wage loss benefits to all workers from the day following an accident, which will have a direct impact on the most vulnerable injured workers.”

Therefore, the Bill states that for the period commencing on July 1, 2019, and ending on June 30, 2020, the reference to “three working days” will be read as a reference to “two working days.

For the period commencing on July 1, 2020, and ending on June 30, 2021, the reference to “three working days” will be read as a reference to “one working day.”

With the removal of the three-day waiting period, compensation is payable until the earliest of the following events:

  • the loss of earnings resulting from the injury by accident ceases;
  • the worker attains the age of 65 years;
  • the occurrence of a personal intervening condition not related to the injury by accident that becomes the dominant cause of the worker’s inability to return to work or participate in rehabilitation; or
  • the occurrence of any circumstance not related to the injury by accident that becomes the dominant cause of the worker’s inability to return to work or participate in rehabilitation.

Another amendment clarifies that any necessary benefit is subject to a medical exam. If the worker refuses to submit to such a medical exam or to his or her treatment or rehabilitation, the WCB can suspend or withhold compensation.

II. Violence and harassment prevention under OHS

The New Brunswick government new workplace regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act aimed at preventing workplace violence and harassment to protect workers comes into force April 1, 2019. Under the new regulatory changes, harassment and violence are defined as workplace hazards that affect an employee’s health and safety. Sexual violence and harassment, domestic violence and intimate partner violence are also included in that definition.

The new regulations effective April 1, 2019, require all employers to develop and implement a written code of practice for preventing harassment and violence in the workplace. The regulations outline the elements that must be included. Also, under the new regulations, employers are required to perform a risk assessment analyzing the likelihood of violence in their workplace before establishing a code of practice.

III. Several more changes are anticipated in 2019

  • Bill 5, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act: The Bill is to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour on April 1, 2019. The Bill received first reading November 28, 2018.
  • Bill 4, An Act to Amend the Pay Equity Act, 2009: Bill 4 amends the Pay Equity Act, 2009 to extend pay equity legislation to the private sector. The Bill received first reading November 28, 2018.

6. Newfoundland and Labrador

I. Domestic violence leave

Domestic violence leave under the Labour Standards Code, to ensure that victims will not lose their jobs when they need leave to seek help will come into force January 1, 2019, in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Employees having been employed with the same employer for a continuous period of 30 days are entitled to a period of family violence leave of three days’ paid leave and seven days’ unpaid in a calendar year where the employee or a person to whom the employee is a parent or caregiver has been directly or indirectly subjected to, a victim of, impacted or seriously affected by family violence or has witnessed family violence.

II. Several more changes are anticipated in 2019

  • Bill 35, Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act (Amdt.) to allow employees diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after suffering a traumatic event at work to presumptively qualify for workers’ compensation coverage received third reading on December 5, 2018 and is awaiting royal assent. When assent is given, the Bill comes into force on July 1, 2019. Amendments to the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act mean that that a worker who experiences a traumatic event or multiple events at work will be presumed to have developed their diagnosed PTSD as a result of their work. The PTSD will be presumed, unless the contrary is shown, to be an injury that arose out of and in the course of the worker’s employment.
  • Bill 36, An Act To Amend The Workplace Health, Safety And Compensation Act No. 2, to amend the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act to replace the current pension replacement benefit with a lump sum retirement benefit passed third reading on November 19, 2018, and is awaiting royal assent to come into force January 1, 2019. Moreover, the amendment provides for a new retirement benefit that is a one-time, lump sum payment of five percent of Extended Earnings Loss (EEL) benefits, plus interest. For injured workers who were previously part of an employer-sponsored pension plan, the lump sum payment will be 10 percent of their EEL benefits, plus interest. The change in effect January 1, 2019, applies to all injured workers who receive EEL benefits anytime on or after that date. The one-time retirement benefit will be paid when the worker reaches the age of 65, even if they are no longer receiving EEL benefits at the time. If an injured worker is deceased before they turn 65, their dependant may qualify for the benefit. The previous program did not pay the benefit to surviving dependants. The amendment also means that the calculations for retirement benefits will be easier to understand, less paperwork will be required and injured workers can expect to receive their benefit within a shorter timeframe.

7. Nova Scotia

I. Domestic violence leave in force January 1, 2019

Effective January 1, 2019, under the Labour Standards Code, an employee in Nova Scotia who has been in his or her job for at least three months is entitled to a domestic violence leave from work if:

  • he or she experiences domestic violence, or
  • his or her child experiences domestic violence

In each calendar year, an employee is entitled to domestic violence leave for:

  • up to 10 days, which an employee can take in one continuous period or intermittently; and
  • up to 16 weeks, which an employee must take in one continuous period.

II. Several more changes are anticipated in 2019

  • The Nova Scotia minimum wage review committee tabled its report last month, recommending incremental minimum wage increases from April 1, 2019, to April 1, 2021. The recommended adjustments are based on projected inflation. Specifically, the committee recommends that the minimum wage increase by approximately $0.55 each year (a $0.30 adjustment plus the projected inflation of $0.25) over the next three years (April 2019 to April 2021) and that effective April 1, 2022, the rate be adjusted with inflation. The increase in the experienced minimum wage rate by $0.55 per year for the next three years results in an experienced minimum wage rate of:
    • $11.55 per hour staring April 1, 2019
    • $12.10 starting April 1, 2020
    • $12.65 starting April 1, 2021

The Committee recommends that the inexperienced minimum wage rate continue to be set at $0.50 less than the experienced minimum wage rate. The Minister of Labour and Advanced Education will announce a decision on the minimum wage rate in early January 2019.

8. Ontario

I. Changes to employment standards and labour relations in Bill 47 passed

On November 21, 2018, the Ontario conservative government gave royal assent to Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, effectively rolling back many employment and labour law changes brought in by the previous Liberal government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (introduced as Bill 148). The Labour Relations Act changes came into force on assent. Most of the Employment Standards Act provisions come into force on January 1, 2019.

To summarize certain key employment standards provisions in Bill 47:

  • Changes to personal emergency leave: Bill 47 repeals the personal emergency leave (PEL) provision in the ESA (s. 50) and replaces it with three separate leaves: three unpaid sick days, three family responsibility leave days and two unpaid bereavement days. There is no prohibition on the requirement of medical documentation and no paid sick leave.
  • Equal pay for equal work based on employment status: Bill 47 repeals section 42.1 of the ESA, which relates to equal pay for equal work based on employment status.
  • Changes to scheduling and record keeping: Scheduling and related record-keeping provisions of the ESA were to come into force on January 1, 2019. Bill 47 repeals sections 27(2), (3) and (5) of the ESA, which relate to scheduling and record-keeping provisions in the ESA. These include providing a minimum of three hours of pay in the event a shift is cancelled 48 hours or less before it was scheduled to begin.
  • Modified three-hour rule exemption: Bill 47 provides for a modified three hour rule under Part VII.1 (s. 21.2) of the ESA.
  • Minimum wage: Bill 47 freezes the province’s minimum wage at $14 an hour until 2020, with future increases to be tied to the rate of inflation.

II. Fall Economic Statement and Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018

The Ontario government delivered its Fall Economic Statement and passed the Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018 (Bill 57) for the purposes of implementing several of the initiatives announced in the statement. Several of the measures found in Bill 57 are of interest to employers and include:

  • Schedule 32 of Bill 57 changes the implementation date for the Pay Transparency Act from January 1, 2019, to an indefinite future date to be chosen by the government. Some features of the Pay Transparency Act were set to take effect on January 1, 2019, including requiring that all public job postings (including online postings) give a salary range and prohibiting employers from inquiring about job candidates’ past income levels.
  • Section 42 of Bill 57 proposes the creation of the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit, effective January 1, 2019. The LIFT Credit is intended to allow individuals with employment income who earn less than $30,000 per year to pay no Ontario Personal Income Tax. Tax relief would be gradually reduced for taxpayers with earnings above this threshold and family incomes greater than $60,000. The LIFT Credit will be claimed at the time that taxes are filed by individual taxpayers.
  • Schedule 33, among others in Bill 57, proposes a number of amendments to the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) as well as changes to the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario Act, 2016 (FSRAO) that will be of interest to employers and pension plan administrators. These include:
    • allowing pension plan administrators to accept electronic beneficiary designations.
    • making changes to section 43.1 of the PBA to clarify the applicable requirements for providing a discharge for the liability of an administrator of a single employer pension plan when a pension benefit has been bought out through an annuity purchase.
    • proclaiming into force the framework for variable benefit accounts and making amendments to the definition of “specified beneficiary,” which will apply to variable benefit accounts, to only include a spouse of a retired member rather than a designated beneficiary of a retired member.
    • adding a provision to the PBA to permit pension plans to provide unlocking of deferred pensions for non-residents of Canada who are former members of the pension plan.
    • amending section 80.4 of the PBA, which governs transfers into JSPPs, to clarify that if the pension plan merging with the JSPP provides both defined and DC benefits, the transfer of the DC benefits must comply with prescribed requirements found in the Regulation.
    • establishing the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario as the sole regulator for financial services other than securities in Ontario, amalgamating it with the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario.

The economic statement also announced:

  • A broad review of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to assess its long-term sustainability and an appropriate balancing of risk and rate predictability.
  • A review all tribunals under the purview of the Ministry of the Attorney General, including the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
  • Starting on March 1, 2019, the government will become the second payor under Ontario’s Youth Pharmacare Program (OHIP+). OHIP+ provides prescription drug coverage for eligible Ontario residents under age 25 and was implemented on January 1, 2018. Moreover, claims for eligible dependants who have coverage under a private plan, such as a benefits plan provided by an employer, must be submitted through the private plan rather than OHIP+. In addition, the Fiscal Review indicated that the government will review the delivery of publicly funded health benefits, including, as a first step, a review of the Ontario Drug Benefit Program.
  • Requiring agencies with collective agreements expiring on or after December 31, 2018, to obtain approval of their bargaining mandates and ratification of collective agreements. The government will also be “exploring additional opportunities to expand collective bargaining oversight” to other areas of the Broader Public Sector (BPS). More changes are also coming with respect to BPS executive compensation.

II. Several more changes are anticipated in 2019

On December 6, 2018, the Ontario Conservative government introduced Bill 66 – An Act to restore Ontario’s competitiveness by amending or repealing certain Acts in the legislature. Bill 66 impacts the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and other related employment law.

1. Employment standards changes under Bill 66

Key amendments to the ESA being proposed in Bill 66 are of interest to employers and include:

  • Employment standards posting: Currently, section 2 of the ESA requires the Minister of Labour to publish a poster on ESA rights and responsibilities. Employers are required to post that poster in a conspicuous place in the workplace and provide copies to each employee as soon as practicable after they are hired. Bill 66 would move the responsibility for publishing the poster from the Minister of Labour to the Director of Employment Standards. It would also remove employers’ obligations to post the poster in the workplace. Moreover, if Bill 66 passes, employers will no longer have to post that poster, but will still be required to provide a copy of the poster to each employee.
  • Approval to work in excess of the maximum weekly hours of work: Currently, under Part VII of the ESA, when employers require employees to work in excess of 48 hours in a week in Ontario, they must first obtain a written agreement with the employees to work in excess of 48 hours up to a set number of hours and request the approval of the Director of Employment Standards. If Bill 66 is enacted, it will remove the requirement to obtain the Director’s approval when employers have made agreements that allow their employees to exceed 48 hours of work in a workweek.
  • Approval from director to average hours of work to determine overtime pay: Currently, under Part VIII of the ESA, employees and employers can agree to average the weekly hours worked by an employee over a number of weeks for the purposes of determining overtime pay. However, in order for such an agreement to be valid, the approval of the Director of Employment Standards is required once the agreement is signed. If Bill 66 is enacted, it will remove the requirement to obtain the approval of the Director. Instead, employers and employees will be permitted to agree in writing to overtime averaging over a number of weeks, so long as the period of averaging is no longer than four weeks. Averaging agreements in place at the time of the changeover would continue to apply until the agreement is revoked (or the collective agreement containing the averaging agreement expires), the Director’s already-provided approval expires or the Director’s approval of the agreement is revoked.

The ESA changes outlined above will come into force on the day the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 receives royal assent.

2. Labour Relations Act changes under Bill 66

Key amendments to the LRA being proposed in Bill 66 are of interest to employers, unions, municipalities and certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public bodies.

Under the current LRA, municipalities and certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public bodies at some point in time were deemed to be construction employers and have been bound to collective agreements and bargaining units of employees under construction sector rules in the LRA.

When Bill 66 is enacted, it will exempt municipalities and certain local boards, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and public bodies and deem them to be non-construction employers. This would permit them to work with union or non-union construction companies as they deem fit. As a result, all current bargaining rights and all applicable collective agreements to which these entities are bound would cease to apply.

Moreover, trade unions that represent employees of these employers who are employed, or who may be employed, in the construction industry no longer represent those employees. Any collective agreement binding the employer and the trade union ceases to apply in so far as it applies to the construction industry.

The LRA changes outlined above will come into force on proclamation at a later date after the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 receives royal assent.

3. Other employment law-related Acts impacted by Bill 66

Other employment law-related Acts impacted by Bill 66 include the following:

  • New, targeted exemption from guardrail requirements for a conveyor and raised platform or a similar system. The Industrial Establishments regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act has recently been amended to add a new, targeted exemption from guardrail requirements for vehicle conveyors and similar systems, and associated raised platforms used with vehicle conveyors or similar systems. You can read more on the amendments that came into force on October 26, 2018 here. Amendments under the Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, specifies that other measures and procedures must be developed and implemented to protect workers from the hazard of falling where this new or other existing guardrail exemptions apply. The aim of this change by the government is to reduce regulatory burden for vehicle and vehicle part manufacturers by more closely aligning with regulations in US jurisdictions. More information will be provided when the Industrial Establishments regulation is reviewed and amended.
  • Schedule 1 of Bill 66 amends the Agricultural Employees Protection Act, 2002 to extend the application of the Act to employees who engage in ornamental horticulture: Bill 66 amends the Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA) to cover ornamental horticultural workers. “Ornamental horticulture” means the production of ornamental plants or their parts for the purpose of their sale or distribution. The term “ornamental plant” includes annual and perennial plants, nursery sod, woody plants and Christmas trees. Amendments found in Bill 66 do not apply to a person who is engaged in ornamental horticulture or the production of ornamental plants if (a) the person is employed by a municipality to do so or (b) the person is employed in silviculture. A trade union that was already representing employees who engage in ornamental horticulture recognized under the Agricultural Employees Protection Act, 2002 will continue to represent them when Bill 66 comes into force. According to the government, this change would bring ornamental horticultural farmers and their employees under the AEPA, ensuring the same protection as agricultural workers in other sectors. Currently, most of this small subset of workers is part of an exemption clause under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 leaving them without legal protection. The proposed amendment would also clarify which workers the AEPA covers.
  • Schedule 6 of Bill 66 amends the Pension Benefits Act: Currently, subsection 80.4 (1) of the Pension Benefits Act provides that the conversion of single employer pension plans to jointly sponsored pension plans, implemented through a transfer of assets and liabilities, is only available with respect to plans that are public sector plans and with respect to prescribed pension plans or classes of pension plans. The Schedule repeals subsection 80.4(1). This Schedule comes into force on the day the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 receives royal assent. Moreover, the proposed change under the Pension Benefits Act would allow private-sector employers to more easily merge their single-employer pension plans with jointly sponsored pension plans. Eliminating the requirement to get government approval would make it easier for employers to reduce pension-plan risk by pooling their plans with other employers.
  • Amend Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS): Bill 66 amends Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The proposed change would amend WHMIS regulation to allow updated labels to be placed on existing chemical containers. Without this change, existing chemicals would need to be disposed of, and new chemicals would need to be purchased. The change would save Ontario universities an estimated $60.2 million to $107.9 million.

9. Prince Edward Island

I. Employment Standards amended leaves

On December 29, 2018, the Prince Edward Island government’s Bill No. 32, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act (No. 4) was proclaimed in force. The amendments in Bill 32 now clearly harmonize aspects of the provincial statutory leaves with those of other jurisdictions. Specifically, Bill 32 effective December 29, 2018:

  • Expands parental leave from 35 weeks in a 52 week period to 62 weeks in a 78 week period.
  • Expands parental leave when combined with maternity leave from 52 weeks to 78 weeks.
  • Increases the period when maternity leave can commence before the birth from 11 weeks to 13 weeks.
  • Extends compassionate care leave from eight weeks to 28 weeks to care and support a family member who is at risk of dying in a 28-week period.
  • Reduces the waiting period for sick leave from a continuous period of employment lasting six months or more to a continuous period of employment lasting at least three months.

II. Changes to WCB presumptive coverage for firefighters

January 1, 2019, Bill No. 40, An Act to Amend the Workers Compensation Act (No. 3) to make several amendments to the Workers Compensation Act to provide enhanced coverage for firefighters comes into force. The presumption coverage of firefighters brings coverage for firefighters who develop primary cancer or heart injuries in the workplace. It also ensures all workers have equal entitlement to pension replacement benefits. An amendment to make a more expanded and equitable definition of impairment and to increase the current lump sum benefit amount to bring us in line with other jurisdictions.

III. Several more changes are anticipated in 2019

  • Workplace harassment prevention: On December 5, 2018, the Prince Edward Island government gave royal assent to Bill No. 42, Eric Donovan Act (An Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act). This Bill introduces provisions with respect to workplace harassment in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The intended outcome is that employers and employees will be provided with a clear sense of what is acceptable or prohibited behaviour in a workplace. The legislative changes are intended to provide a better outline of the responsibilities of employers to prevent harassment in the workplace. Specifically, an employer must establish and implement a policy, in accordance with the regulations, with measures to prevent and investigate occurrences of harassment in the workplace. The Bill also adds wording that requires a worker, while at work, to comply with any policy or program established by an employer pursuant to this Act or the regulations. The Bill also clarifies that the results of a workplace harassment investigation do not constitute a report that an employer is required to include as part of the occupational health and safety program for the workplace. It also includes provisions to ensure confidentiality. The Bill also makes clear that it is not a duty of the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative to receive, investigate or deal with, or to participate in an investigation respecting complaints of workplace harassment. Details on the measures to be established will be provided in regulations, which are pending and expected in 2019.
  • Domestic violence leave: On June 12, 2018, the Prince Edward Island government gave royal assent to Bill No. 116, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act (No.3) to introduce a paid leave of absence for a domestic violence leave, intimate partner violence leave or sexual violence leave under the Employment Standards Act. Bill 116 is not yet in force and is awaiting proclamation when Regulations with details on the leave are filed. The Bill in itself does not provide much detail, but the bulk of the new rules will be implemented through regulations.

10. Quebec

I. Labour Standards changes

A wide-ranging number of changes have been made to the Quebec Labour Standards Act under An Act to amend the Act respecting labour standards and other legislative provisions mainly to facilitate family-work balance (Bill 176). Several of these changes come into force on January 1, 2019 and include:

  • Annual vacation: Workers will have three weeks’ paid vacation after three years working for the same employer, instead of five years.
  • Psychological harassment: All employers must have a policy to prevent psychological harassment and deal with complaints.
  • Bereavement leave: Workers will have five days off, two of which are paid, instead of just one day.
  • Leaves of absence: The first two days of absence related to family, bereavement, paternity, sickness, organ donation, accident or domestic violence leave will be paid. An employer whose employees receive gratuities or tips must, going forward, take into consideration his employees’ gratuities and tips, along with their base salary, for purposes of calculating their two paid days of absence. The same will also apply to collective dismissal indemnities.
  • Domestic violence leave: has been added to the list of leaves of absence entitling an employee to 26 weeks of unpaid leave.
  • Right to refuse work: Employees now have the right to refuse to work for more than two hours (instead of four hours) beyond their regular hours in a 24-hour period.
  • Pay equality and employment status: Employers are prohibited from remunerating an employee at a lower rate than that granted to another employee who performs the same tasks if the discrepancy is based on employment status.

II. QPP enhancement

The Quebec government is also made significant changes to the Quebec Pension Plan in line with changes already enacted for the Canada Pension Plan effective January 1, 2019.

11. Saskatchewan

I. Incremental increase to the minimum wage

On November 15, 2018, a private member’s bill was tabled in the Saskatchewan legislature, Bill 611, the Saskatchewan Employment (Incremental Increase to the Minimum Wage) Amendment Act, 2018, to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hours by 2022.

Starting January 1, 2019 and ending on January 1, 2022, the minimum wage will gradually increase as follows:

  • $12.00 on and from January 1, 2019
  • $13.00 on and from January 1, 2020
  • $14.00 on and from January 1, 2021
  • $15.00 on and from January 1, 2022

II. Expanding statutory leaves

On November 21, 2018, the Saskatchewan government tabled Bill 153, An Act to amend The Saskatchewan Employment Act respecting Leaves, in order to expand and introduce new statutory leaves under the Employment Act. Specifically, Bill 153 is proposing to

  • Increase maternity leave from 18 weeks to 19 weeks;
  • Increase parental leave for birth mothers from 34 weeks to 59 weeks;
  • Increase parental leave from 37 weeks in a 52-week period to 63 weeks in a 78-week period;
  • Allow a person taking maternity leave to commence the leave 13 weeks before the due date (previously 12 weeks);
  • Allow nurse practitioners to issue medical certificates;
  • Extend the interpersonal violence leave of 10 days to include survivors of sexual violence;
  • Introduce a critical illness leave by adding 17 weeks off to care for critically ill adult family members.

When enacted, the new provisions will come into force on assent, except for sections 11 and 12, which have to do with designated employers.

III. Improving appeals process for foreign workers working in the province

On November 1, 2018, the Saskatchewan government tabled Bill 139, The Foreign Worker Recruitment and Immigration Services Amendment Act, 2018 to make several amendments to better protect vulnerable workers by ensuring unscrupulous parties are not taking advantage of foreign workers or immigrants.

A key amendment is establishing a new appeal process based on the principles of administrative fairness. All appeals will be heard by an independent, third-party adjudicator. The amendment will outline the procedure for hearing an appeal and define the powers of the adjudicator.

The Bill also clarifies the director’s authority to request information from a third party when investigating a possible violation of the Act. This will allow obtaining information from, for example, financial institutions or telephone companies when conducting an investigation.

The amendments included in the Bill are the result of a review conducted by the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety after it assumed responsibility for administration of the Act in the 2017-18 budget. The Act discourages unethical practices and protects foreign workers from exploitation and mistreatment during the recruitment and immigration process. It also builds transparency and accountability for immigration consulting and recruitment services.

12. Yukon

Government considers changing minimum leaves of absence

The Yukon government recently consulted with the public to see if rules around leaves of absence should be enacted to mirror federal legislation.

Under the proposed change, the parental leave of absence of 37 weeks would increase to 62 weeks.

The changes would also cover caring for the injured, critically or gravely ill family members or child.

The government is currently reviewing the feedback provided.

Last words

There is much more, but we cannot cover it all in this one blog post. However, throughout 2019, regularly check in with us to obtain discussions on the above and upcoming changes and much more that our regular and guest contributors will be posting. If we missed anything, you will be sure to find it in our comprehensive and in-depth news and information service HRinfodesk.

To understand how to apply and interpret the law in your day-to-day HR task, consult The Human Resources Advisor, Ontario, Western or Atlantic editions. Read more on HRA here.

Human Resources PolicyPro

To set up your HR policies or to update your policies, Human Resources PolicyPro is the tool for you. Read more on PolicyPro here.

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Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B. Managing Editor

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 18 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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