Ruling made on Nov. 28, 2011.
In Canada (Canadian Human Rights Commission) v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has found that the Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) cannot award legal costs. In this case, the employee worked in the Canadian Forces. Three years after her employment ended, she filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleging “sexual harassment, adverse differential treatment, and failure to continue to employ her on account of her sex.” The CHRT ruled in her favour and awarded her $4,000 in damages and $47,000 in legal costs. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the tribunal did not have the authority to award costs under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The SCC agreed.
Announced on Nov. 1, 2011.
The Canada Revenue Agency announced that the maximum pensionable earnings under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for 2012 will be $50,100 — up from $48,300 in 2011. The basic exemption amount for 2012 remains $3,500. The employee and employer contribution rates for 2012 will remain unchanged at 4.95%, and the self-employed contribution rate will remain unchanged at 9.9%. The maximum employer and employee contribution to the plan for 2012 will be $2,306.70, and the maximum self-employed contribution will be $4,613.40.
Bill 14, Workers’ Compensation Amendment Act, 2011
First reading on Nov. 3, 2011.
This legislation will expand the coverage of mental stress claims for workers’ compensation coverage. The requirement that the mental stress be an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment has been eliminated. Instead, a worker will have to demonstrate that the mental stress is a reaction to:
• one or more traumatic events arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment; or
• a significant work-related stressor, or a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors, arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment.
Ruling made on Oct. 27, 2011.
In British Columbia (Workers Compensation Board) v. Figliola, the decision reviewed the jurisdiction of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT) to consider an application regarding a Workers Compensation Board (WCB) policy, when the substance of the application had already been heard by a WCB Review Officer, who had considered the policy and determined that it adhered to the B.C. Human Rights Code. The respondents could have applied for judicial review of the decision but instead decided to relitigate the matter at the BCHRT. In this case, the WCB sought to dismiss the application pursuant to s. 27(1)(f) of the Code, which allows the BCHRT to dismiss an application if it had been appropriately dealt with in another proceeding. The BCHRT dismissed the motion. The BCHRT decision was overturned on judicial review, but restored by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court split five to four, but the majority, emphasized that the principles of s. 27(1)(f) are: respect for the finality and integrity of other administrative processes; the importance of respecting available appeal and review mechanisms; avoiding needless re-litigation; and preventing forum shopping.
Occupational Health and Safety
Announced on Nov. 7, 2011.
The results of a recent focused inspection campaign on residential construction sites in Alberta show there continues to be room for safety improvements. Through September and October, initial and follow-up inspections resulted in 394 orders issued, including 83 stop work orders. A lack of fall protection, or a fall protection plan, accounted for about one-third of all orders issued. OHS has been carrying out a pilot program of evening and weekend inspections. This stepped-up schedule will continue on a regular basis as part of the ongoing inspection program.
Occupational Health and Safety
Announced on Sept. 30, 2011.
Because the OHS Regulation is due to expire on March 31, 2013, a review of the Regulation is underway. The Alberta government is developing a formal proposal that will be available for public consultation in 2012. Please note that the current review is on the OHS Regulation only, which outlines the administrative requirements relating to health and safety at Alberta work sites.
Announced on Nov. 2, 2011.
The Manitoba Labour and Immigration Employment Standards Branch now posts administrative penalty orders on the provincial website. The province can impose a penalty of $500 per employee per offence to a maximum of $10,000 for failing to comply with the Employment Standards Code or the Construction Industry Wages Act, when the violation occurs after a person has been warned to comply. The penalties that are posted have been paid or appealed and upheld. Posting the employers’ names is intended to deter employers who repeatedly and intentionally violate employment legislation, to protect vulnerable employees and to raise public awareness in proactive enforcement.
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).
Announced on Sept. 7, 2011.
The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) 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, regarding its Consultation Paper about laws and policies affecting persons with disabilities. Responses to the Consultation Paper were accepted until Nov. 25, 2011, and will provide input into an Interim Report with a draft framework, that will be circulated. This will be followed by a Final Report in mid-2012.
Bill 39, An Act to amend the Act respecting the Québec Pension Plan and other legislative provisions
Royal Assent on Dec. 9, 2011.
Amends provisions regarding pensions and benefits payable under the Québec Pension Plan. Some of the changes in the act include:
• A person will be able to qualify for a retirement pension at age 60 without having ceased working.
• An additional amount for disability after retirement is also established. Further, a person must have paid contributions for at least four of the last six years preceding a disability to be entitled to a disability pension from the age of 60.
• Amendments are proposed to the payment of retirement pensions. For example, the maximum period of 60 months for the retroactive payment of the retirement pension a person over 65 years of age is entitled to but has not applied for is reduced to 12 months.
• Earnings subsequent to the end of the contributory period may be excluded from the calculation of the additional pension in the case of beneficiaries of a retirement pension who are working and who pay contributions to the Canada Pension Plan.
• Orphan’s pensions are increased and the definition of child of the contributor is amended with respect to the payment of an orphan’s pension or a disabled contributor’s child’s pension.
Announced on Nov. 9, 2011.
Revenu Québec has also announced the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) rates for 2012. The maximum pensionable earnings will be $50,100. The QPP contribution rate will be increased to 10.05% for 2012, which means employee and employer contribution rates of 5.025%. Thus, the maximum contribution for employees and employers to the QPP for 2012 will be $2,341.65 and the maximum contribution for self-employed workers will be $4,683.30. The contribution rate will increase by 0.15 of a per cent a year, reaching 10.80% in 2017.
Bill 33, An Act to eliminate union placement and improve the operation of the construction industry
Royal Assent on Dec. 2, 2011. Referral provisions are in force on Dec. 2, 2012.
Introduces a new referral mechanism that changes union placement of employees 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.
Announced on Dec. 14, 2011.
New Brunswick has used an online questionnaire to gather information on the possible introduction of a special minimum wage for servers in the province who earn tips. Four provinces — Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec — have a minimum wage for those who earn tips that is lower than the regular minimum wage.
Bill 102, the Trade Union Amendment Act
Third reading on Dec. 9, 2011.
Creates a process allowing for first-agreement arbitration if negotiation and conciliation are unsuccessful in achieving a first collective agreement.