Canada Pension Plan
Announced on Oct. 8, 2011.
Effective Jan. 1, 2012, the CPP will provide a new Post-Retirement Benefit (PRB) to employees and the self-employed. The PRB extends participation in the CPP to employees and self-employed who are 60 or older and who receive CPP benefits while continuing to work. The proposed amendments to the Canada Pension Plan Regulations will prescribe the manner of employee elections (or revocations) regarding the PRB. The proposed amendment will also extend the time limit for payments of CPP contributions where an election has been made in respect of self-employed earnings.
Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures
Second reading on Oct. 17, 2011.
This Bill contains provisions to eliminate the mandatory retirement age of 65 for federally regulated employees. This will allow older workers wishing to work the option of remaining in the workforce. Other measures of interest to employers include: providing a temporary Hiring Credit for Small Business to encourage additional hiring; enhancement of the Wage Earner Protection Program to cover more workers affected by employer bankruptcy or receivership; introduction of a Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit for volunteer firefighters; helping apprentices in the skilled trades and workers in regulated professions by making occupational, trade and professional examination fees eligible for the Tuition Tax Credit.
Occupational Health and Safety
Announced on Oct. 14, 2011.
Every year WorkSafeBC identifies sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) that require updating. For the 2012 regulatory workplan, the following items are proposed for revision: fall protection anchors; table saws; pressure vessels; electrical safety; and diver certification. The proposed amendments may be revised based on the comments received, before being taken to formal public hearing in May/June 2012.
Announced on Oct. 12, 2011.
The Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia issued guidelines to help organizations and public bodies using social media sites to conduct background checks of prospective employees, volunteers and candidates. They outline the privacy risks associated with the use of social media such as:
• collection of potentially inaccurate personal information;
• collection of too much or irrelevant personal information;
• inadvertent collection of third-party personal information; and
• overreliance on consent for the collection of personal information that may not be reasonable in the circumstances.
The Guidelines also provide information on what to consider and what to avoid when performing social media background checks.
Bill 23, The Employment Standards Code Amendment Act
Royal Assent on June 16, 2011. In force on Jan. 1, 2012.
Amendment is intended to help Manitoba businesses introduce flexible work hours that would accommodate employers’ needs and allow employees to better balance their work-life schedules. The changes allow for individual agreements between employers and employees to alter the standard hours of work (flex time).
In force on Oct. 1, 2011.
The province increased the minimum wage 50¢ to $10.00 an hour on Oct. 1, 2011.
In force on Jan. 1, 2012.
On June 24, 2011, the Ontario government filed the regulations related to the amendments to the Pension Benefits Act affected by Bill 133, the Family Statute Law Amendment Act, 2009. Among other family law matters, O. Reg. 287/11 (Family Law Matters) amends the Pension Benefits Act and creates new rules governing the valuation of pension assets by plan administrators for family law purposes; and the immediate settlement of the former spouse’s entitlement, either through a lump sum transfer if the marriage breakdown occurs prior to retirement or division of the pension in pay, where there is a court order, family arbitration award or domestic contract awarding a payout from the pension. There are also amendments to General Regulation 909 contained in O. Reg. 288/11 which are necessary prior to proclamation of the related amendments to the Pension Benefits Act. The regulations and therefore the pension division and valuation aspects of Bill 133 are expected to come into force on Jan. 1, 2012.
Announced on Sept. 6, 2011.
The Law Commission of Ontario has released a consultation paper on disability issues and is looking for feedback from the public, including persons with disabilities, service providers, policy-makers, lawyers and advocates. Responses to the Consultation Paper will be accepted until Nov. 25.
Occupational Health and Safety
Announced on Oct. 17, 2011.
The Ministry of Labour will target underground mines in the province, checking for poorly maintained ventilation systems and diesel equipment as part of its latest safety inspection blitz under the Safe At Work Ontario strategy. Inspectors will ensure that workers have an adequate supply of clean air while working underground, through properly maintained ventilation systems and diesel equipment. Inspectors will also check for evidence that employers are regularly conducting workplace air sampling.
Bill 33, An Act to eliminate union placement and improve the operation of the construction industry
First reading on Oct. 6, 2011.
Introduces a new dispatch mechanism in the construction industry. The bill also proposes various measures to improve the operation of the construction industry, including the introduction of the notion of skilled occupation, the exclusion of volunteer workers from the workforce management in the construction industry, a review mechanism for the activities included in a trade or a skilled occupation in the construction industry, and the evaluation, every five years, of developments in the construction industry.
Bill 23, An Act to amend various pension plans in the public sector
Reported from committee on Oct. 27, 2011.
Amends various pension plans in the public sector. The changes generally include changing contribution rates, adjusting indexation, transferring funds and changing the number of years that can be accrued for years of service.
Regulation respecting occupational health and safety, as am. by O.C. 915-2011
In force on Oct. 4, 2011.
The changes in the regulations relate to contaminants or dangerous substances.
Ruling made on July 6, 2011.
Québec (Procureur général) c. Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of Bill 30. The Bill, which came into force in 2003, reduced the number of bargaining units in the province’s health-care sector by over two-thirds and restructured the province’s health and social services bargaining units by creating four bargaining units per establishment, with the membership of each unit defined according to a series of job titles. This resulted in drastic changes in the membership of each union and in the grouping together of many professionals with divergent interests in the same bargaining units. The bill removed health-care workers’ right to strike, forcing them to seek interest arbitration in the case of a bargaining impasse.
Announced on July 29, 2011.
The New Brunswick government has launched a review to ensure public sector pension plans are affordable, sustainable and have secure benefits. The following issues will be considered:
• the differences between provincial public service pension benefits and retirement provisions and those offered by private sector employers, in the context of overall employee compensation;
• the needs of the provincial public service to recruit and retain qualified employees with consideration given to competing employers;
• the need to ensure future pension benefits are reasonable throughout the public service; and
• how risk should be shared between the government and employees.
The review will be completed by the task force that is currently examining private sector pensions for the Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs.
In force on Apr. 1, 2012.
The minimum wage was supposed to increase from $9.50 to $10.00 an hour on Sept. 1, 2011. The increase has been postponed until April 1, 2012. In addition, the province is planning to study the idea of a two-tiered minimum wage where workers who earn tips would be subject to a lower minimum wage.
Announced on Oct. 20, 2011.
The Labour Management Review Committee, established earlier this year to improve labour relations in Nova Scotia, is inviting comment on a proposal to introduce first contract arbitration. Six provinces and the federal government have established legislation to settle first contracts without a strike or lockout. The legislation includes mechanisms for assistance when the employer and the union have not been able to conclude a first collective agreement, including the ability to help to resolve a first agreement. A discussion paper on this issue can be found at www.gov.ns.ca/lae.