Time to Bring Out the Sled Dogs!

January 27, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Stephen Acker and Leanne Fioravanti

More exotic modes of transport may need to be explored as Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, struggles with relentless snow storms and a highly controversial bus strike. Unfortunately there is no end in sight as the OC Transpo transit strike enters its second month in mid-January. This transit strike demonstrates:

  1. the distinction between provincially and federally regulated industries in Canada; and
  2. that union militancy is alive and well in certain parts of the frozen north.

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Jobless Rate Rises in Canada, Too

January 20, 2009 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant

The United States is not the only country being hit by increasing unemployment rates — Canada is being hit, too. Although not as high as unemployment figures in the US, Canadian figures put unemployment at 6.6%. So where is Canada being hit the most? The following statistics from the Labour Force Survey show where.

  • A net 34,000 jobs were lost in December, the result of a large drop in full-time work. A gain of 36,000 part-time jobs offset the loss of 71,000 full-time jobs. Understandably, most of the losses were in the private sector.  In fact, the public sector gained jobs.
  • December’s job losses arose largely from a drop in construction. That industry experienced one of the largest monthly losses in over 30 years — 44,000 jobs lost in December. Given that housing starts in November were at their lowest level in seven years, this is not surprising.
  • Other industries hit hard were: business, culture, recreational services, agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas, trade, and manufacturing.
  • Alberta was the hardest hit province, accounting for 16,000 of the lost jobs. This is particularly surprising given that only a year ago employers were giving huge signing bonuses just to get employees to come work for them. But it’s not surprising given the decline in oil and gas.
  • Second behind Alberta in December was Quebec. But year over year, unemployment in Quebec was unchanged.
  • Young people aged 15 to 24 and men aged 25 to 54 were the hardest hit by the declines in December.
  • Those over 55 actually saw an employment increase. Perhaps these older workers are prepared to accept flexible work schedules and fewer benefits. But despite the employment increase, unemployment rose for these older workers, the result of an increase in the number of people over 55 looking for work.

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Categories: Economy

A ‘Routine’ Background Check in Canada? There’s No Such Thing

January 13, 2009 - by: Derek Knoechel 0 COMMENTS

by Derek Knoechel

In 1990, a 21-year-old woman was caught shoplifting. She then pleaded guilty to a charge of theft, receiving a conditional discharge. Some five years later, she applied for a position with the Montreal police force. So began a 13-year legal odyssey culminating in a Supreme Court of Canada decision (Montréal (City) v. Quebec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, 2008 SCC 48) released in August of 2008.

As part of the background screening process, the Montreal police force became aware of the past guilty plea. It rejected her application on the basis that the guilty plea showed she did not possess the necessary “good moral character” required of police officers. The “good moral character” test was legitimate – it was a statutory requirement. The police force believed this test supported its rejection of the woman’s application.

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More Bad News for Wal-Mart in Canada

January 06, 2009 - by: Dominique Launay 0 COMMENTS

by Dominique Launay

Five weeks ago, we told you about an unfair labor practice complaint against Wal-Mart in Saskatchewan, arising out of its closure of a store in Jonquiere, Quebec. Well, it seems that Saskatchewan isn’t the only province in which Wal-Mart is being dealt blows. The Quebec Labor Relations Board  has also recently ruled against Wal-Mart.

In 2005, Wal-Mart received two applications for certification from the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 486. One was for the main store in Gatineau, Quebec. The other was for the auto center next door. These didn’t end up being normal applications for certification and ended up with considerable debate before the Quebec Labor Relations Board.

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Protecting Your Business from Departing Employees

December 30, 2008 - by: Derek Knoechel 0 COMMENTS

by Derek Knoechel

Sophisticated employers in Canada recognize that the potential costs associated with employee turnover extend far beyond the cost of replacing departing employees. Departures can also place critical business assets at risk.

A departing employee may engage in the unauthorized use or disclosure of confidential information ranging from technological know-how, product roadmaps and marketing strategies to critical information about clients and suppliers. Departing employees may also interfere with the employer’s relationships with customers, suppliers, and other employees.

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Challenging Times in Canada Present Opportunities for Creative Solutions

December 23, 2008 - by: Katie Clayton 1 COMMENTS

by Katie Clayton

In this economic climate in Canada, many employers are being forced to find ways to reduce costs, which often means layoffs. But layoffs don’t have to be the only answer — you can reduce costs without losing valuable employees.

One way businesses can do so is to slightly reduce their employees hours of work. Even a small decrease in work hours can have a significant effect on a company’s bottom line, allowing it to keep talented employees for when the economy rebounds. So how do employers go about reducing employees’ hours of work while avoiding claims that it has unilaterally altered a term of employment, which could lead to a claim for constructive dismissal?

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Canadian Employer Can’t Fire Worker On Marijuana

December 16, 2008 - by: Sara Parchello 2 COMMENTS

by Sara Parchello

While U.S. employers know that their human resources policies may need to be tweaked to comply with Canadian laws, many are surprised at how different Canada’s drug testing laws are.

In the United States, drug use and impairment in the workplace are seen the same as any other criminal activity. In Canada, however, employee drug use and impairment is governed by human rights and privacy legislation.

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Categories: Arbitration / Human Rights / Privacy

What do recent changes in the Canadian Parliament mean for businesses?

December 09, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian Smeenk

Much has been happening on the political front in Canada in the past two weeks. It has kept us spellbound, but all the politics has certainly not advanced the government’s economic agenda.

On Monday, December 1, the three opposition parties in the federal Parliament announced that they had formed a coalition and intended to topple Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, minority government. They would do so by bringing a no confidence vote one week later.

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Categories: Employer's Tip

Canadian Employer Avoids Prior Severance Promises

December 09, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant

During these tough economic times, employers are often looking to increase flexibility. Several of our recent blog entries have discussed ways in which employers can do so – furloughs, work-sharing programs, changing employment contracts, and adjusting the size of the workforce. Recently, the British Columbia Court of Appeal granted Raytheon Canada some flexibility when it said that Raytheon did not have to provide severance pay in accordance with prior promises. (Marija Ciric v Raytheon Canada Limited)

Severance pay promises
In January 2004, Raytheon began downsizing its Richmond, British Columbia, facility. Layoffs had been made, more were expected and were subsequently made, and Raytheon was anxious to retain key employees. In order to do so, Raytheon told employees that were not being laid off that the practice of paying severance pay based on one month’s salary for each year of service, with an upward adjustment for age and level, would continue to apply to employees who were laid off from the Richmond facility in the future.

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Quebec closing may have ramifications in Saskatchewan – Wal-Mart revisited

December 02, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant

As many of you will know from earlier blog entries, Wal-Mart’s entry into Canada has been rife with union complaints. Beginning in the 1990s when employees at a Windsor, Ontario, store were automatically certified under relatively new certification provisions, employees and unions have filed numerous unfair labor practice complaints. The most recent of these complaints to be dealt with comes out of Saskatchewan.

What’s interesting about the development in Saskatchewan is that it involves a store in another province — Quebec.

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