Weathering the Economic Storm in Canada: Restructuring and Employees’ Rights

May 12, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

By Leanne Fioravanti and Stephen Acker

In these tough financial times, a number of companies are trying to reorganize themselves in order to avoid insolvency or bankruptcy. In Canada, there are several laws that help facilitate this process: the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). For the most part, employees are often left high and dry during these restructurings, as these laws don’t offer them much protection.

Canadian processes
The CCAA is a federal law that allows financially troubled companies that owe in excess of $5 million the opportunity to restructure their affairs. The CCAA process is court-driven, giving judges a high degree of flexibility to decide how best to deal with the specific cases before them. A monitor is appointed to oversee the restructuring and to report to the court when necessary about the restructuring.

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Attendance Management Programs and Human Rights

May 05, 2009 - by: Derek Knoechel 0 COMMENTS

Managing absenteeism can be a significant challenge for Canadian employers. A wide variety of factual situations may be complicated by employment standards, privacy and human rights laws, as well as any applicable union agreements.

An example of the potential challenges of implementing an attendance management program (AMP) is the decade-long battle between Coast Mountain Bus Company Ltd. (CMBC) and the Canadian Auto Workers. It involved an AMP covering transit operators in the Greater Vancouver region of British Columbia.

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New Bill Introduced to Curb Workplace Violence and Harassment

May 05, 2009 - by: Karen Sargeant 1 COMMENTS

Ontario is looking to reduce violence and harassment in the workplace. To that end,
Bill 168, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace, received first reading on April 20, 2009. Bill 168, if passed, would amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

The key components of Bill 168 are: read more…

Issues When Entering Canada with a Criminal Record

April 28, 2009 - by: Isabelle Dongier 1 COMMENTS

Times have changed. Borders, too. Frequent business travelers know that and leave earlier to allow for longer security controls. But they are sometimes astonished when a border officer declares them inadmissible to Canada for criminality.

A new environment
Nowadays, border officers work in an enforcement environment. A much greater emphasis is now put on security controls and safety, without any consideration for the individual’s position or the purpose and duration of his visit to Canada. Where border officers in the past may have used their good judgment in assessing risks, they are now applying strict guidelines and a zero tolerance discipline toward visitors with any sort of criminal history.

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Categories: Immigration

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For First Time, 22,000 Mounties Can Begin Organizing in 2010

April 21, 2009 - by: Sara Parchello 0 COMMENTS

By Sara Parchello

The face of unionization in Canada is changing. Although it’s declining in the private sector, it’s increasing in the public sector. A few recent decisions by Canadian courts show this trend.

The most recent is a decision involving the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (commonly known as the “Mounties”). On April 6, 2009, the Ontario Superior Court gave the Mounties the right to unionize.

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Work-Sharing: An Alternative to Layoffs in Canada

April 13, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Katie Clayton and Cherity Smith

Since the economic downturn took hold, each day brings another announcement of employee layoffs and corporate downsizing. Recent blog entries have looked at options such as layoffs, furloughs, and reducing hours of work. There is another option in Canada – work-sharing.

What is work-sharing?
Work-sharing is an adjustment program created by the Canadian government. It provides income support to employees eligible for employment insurance benefits who are willing to work a reduced workweek. The reduced workweek would be for a defined time period in order to help the employer avoid layoffs.

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Categories: Economy

Tags: ,

Canadian Public Official Acquitted on Charges of Fraud, Breach of Trust

April 07, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Mark Colavecchia and Derek Knoechel

In June 2003 George Radwanski, Canada’s federal privacy commissioner, resigned three years into his seven-year term amid parliamentary inquiries into travel and hospitality expenses. Several months later, the auditor general released a report leading to a lengthy police investigation of Radwanski’s expense claims.

In March 2006, the former privacy commissioner was charged with fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. The fraud charges stemmed from a $15,000 travel advance, while the breach of trust charges arose from contraventions of policies governing federal public office holders.

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Alcohol Addiction Is Not a Blanket Defense for Theft

March 31, 2009 - by: Dominique Launay 0 COMMENTS

By Dominique Launay

There can be little doubt that dealing with employees suffering from the disease of addiction “whether to drugs, alcohol, or even gambling” is a challenge for employers. That challenge becomes greater when the employee raises the addiction as an excuse for engaging in misconduct.

In a recent case, the question arose whether the employer had the obligation to accommodate an employee who is guilty of theft because he suffered from alcohol dependency?

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Be Careful Taking Cost-Saving Measures in Union Workplace

March 24, 2009 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

By Karen Sargeant

In the last several months, we have posted several blog entries detailing how employers can reduce employment costs and/or increase workforce flexibility in these tough economic times. We have talked about furloughs, work-sharing programs, changing employment contracts, adjusting the size of the workforce and reducing employees’ hours of work.

But all of these discussions have been in the context of nonunion workplaces. What about a unionized workplace – do employers have the same flexibility to reduce hours, shorten the workweek, impose work-sharing programs or set up other cost-saving measures? The answer depends.

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Broad Drug Testing Policies Approved by Arbitrator

March 17, 2009 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

By Brian P. Smeenk

Drug and alcohol testing has long been a sensitive subject in Canada, especially in safety-sensitive workplaces. A recent 128-page arbitration decision by a leading Canadian arbitrator may have put to rest many of the remaining questions about what kinds of policies will be enforceable in Canada and what they should contain.

As we have reported in earlier articles in Northern Exposure, there are significant differences between Canadian and American law in this area. As one arbitrator has noted, Canadians tend to have a “visceral negative reaction when the state, employers, or anyone in authority dictates to them what they can or cannot do, especially on their personal time …” There has been a reluctance to allow intrusions on individual freedoms and rights unless the necessity is clearly demonstrated.

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