Significant Pension Changes Coming

November 16, 2009 - by: Bill Duvall 0 COMMENTS

By William Duvall

After years of consultations, the Canadian government has announced significant changes to the legal framework for federally regulated pension plans. In addition, proposed changes to the Income Tax Act would affect all defined benefit plans whether regulated federally or provincially.

While we can’t cover all the contemplated changes in this article, we do highlight some of the more significant ones we will likely face in the near future.

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Wal-Mart Layoffs Declared Illegal by Quebec Arbitrator

November 09, 2009 - by: Dominique Launay 0 COMMENTS

As we have reported before (January 6, 2009, December 2, 2008, and August 26, 2008), Wal-Mart has repeatedly been dealt blows by Canadian courts and other decision-makers. Most recently, an arbitrator in Quebec has weighed in – and it’s more bad news for Wal-Mart in Canada.

Wal-Mart’s store in Jonquiere, Quebec, was certified by the UFCW, Local 503 in 2004. In February 2005, after unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a collective agreement, Wal-Mart publicly indicated its intention to close the store for business reasons – it couldn’t afford to meet the union’s demands. It then gave employees notice of termination effective May 2005, the date on which the store would cease operations.

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Employers Need Understanding of Canadian Work Permits

November 02, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Lesli Sheinberg and Isabelle Dongier

When do foreign workers need to obtain a Canadian work permit? The rules often are misunderstood, and that misunderstanding can lead to complicated situations for employers and foreign workers. Sometimes the workers learn of the work permit requirement only upon arrival in Canada, and that can result in many unnecessary (and sometimes unpleasant) hours in immigration offices at border crossings or airports. In some cases, it results in a denial of admission.

To avoid such scenarios it’s important to understand the basics of Canadian work permits. With this article we begin a discussion on the fundamentals of Canadian work permits that will continue in future issues of Northern Exposure.

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Wage Settlements Across Canada Slow Down — More in Private Sector

October 28, 2009 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) reports that wage settlements in unionized companies this year (January to August 2009) have averaged 2.4 percent. The results are based on 237 agreements covering 632,000 employees. Wage adjustments are averaging 2.5 percent in the public sector and 1.9 percent in the private sector.  See

The spread between public- and private-sector settlements seems to be even larger in the last three reported months, as shown in the following table from HRDC. read more…

Remote Control: U.S. Employees Based in Canada

October 26, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Stephen Acker and Julia Kennedy

Gone are the days when a white-collar job always meant going into the office and occupying a cubicle from 9 to 5. New information technology and network capabilities have made the home office and telecommuting, if not commonplace, at least attainable for many. Employers have realized that they can have access to skilled employees from anywhere on the continent without the headaches of relocation or satisfying immigration laws. While the benefits of remote employment arrangements may be debatable, access to a rare skill set will often outweigh employers’ concerns about supervision.

And so we are in the age of the remote employee.

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Workers’ Comp Throws Its ‘Employer’ Nets Wide

October 19, 2009 - by: Norman K. Trerise 1 COMMENTS

A British Columbia Court of Appeal decision has worrisome implications for companies that control elements of the operations of subcontractors or franchisees. Although it was about a franchise situation in B.C., it could have repercussions in other provinces and other business relationships.

What happened
In 2005, there was a robbery of a Petro-Canada service station. The robber got behind the counter and held a worker at knife point. A small swinging door was his only barrier to entry, and he kicked it down.

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Keays vs. Honda One Year Later: Have Canadian Courts Changed Their Approach to Punitive and Bad Faith Damages?

October 12, 2009 - by: Karen Sargeant 0 COMMENTS

It has been just over a year since the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) issued its decision in Keays v. Honda Canada Inc. (Read our analysis of the court’s decision in that case). That decision mandated a change in Canadian courts’ approach to awarding damages in employment cases. Damages for bad faith conduct by the employer (Wallace damages) and punitive damages were to be awarded only in exceptional circumstances.

So just what have Canadian courts been doing since? Has their approach to such damages really changed? A review of the decisions in the past year suggests they have.

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Extreme Benefits Makeover: Employee Time Off for Cosmetic Surgery

October 05, 2009 - by: Sara Parchello 1 COMMENTS

Should employees receive benefits coverage for time off due to cosmetic surgery? At least two Canadian labor arbitrators think so.

In the most recent decision on point, North Bay General Hospital v. Ontario Nurses’ Assn. [2009] OLAA No. 47, 181 LAC (4th) 179 (Stephens), an employee was awarded sick pay coverage for time off while she recovered from cosmetic skin removal surgery.

The employee, a nurse, was left with excess and baggy skin after she lost a “considerable amount of weight.” In order to get rid of the excess skin, the employee decided that she would have it removed.

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More Amendments to Human Rights Legislation in Canada

September 28, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 2 COMMENTS

by Katie Clayton and Farrah Sunderani

Over the past couple of years, human rights legislation across Canada has undergone a period of transition. This comes as a response to growing dissatisfaction with outdated statutes and the lengthy processes in place to resolve complaints.

Amendments to the British Columbia Human Rights Code were proposed in 2002 and set the stage for other provinces to follow suit. Modifications to Ontario’s Human Rights Code followed in 2008, and those changes closely mirrored those put in place in British Columbia. Now it seems that Alberta is next in line.

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What’s Reasonable Notice for Short Service Employees?

September 21, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Derek Knoechel and Lindsey Taylor

One of the principle features of Canadian employment law that strikes many U.S. employers as unique is the concept of an employee’s common law right to reasonable notice of termination when an employee is fired without cause.

Compliance with the minimum statutory requirements for notice, termination pay, and/or severance pay contained in employment standards legislation across the country generally isn’t sufficient to extinguish an employer’s obligations to provide reasonable notice. That’s because the courts have repeatedly held that minimum standards aren’t “reasonable.”

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