Provincial labor force differences across Canada

August 26, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian P. Smeenk

Canada is a diverse country. Its ten provinces and three territories are endowed with varying natural resources and have developed their own industrial infrastructures and labour markets. Nevertheless, education is always a major factor in the ability to find a job.

So commences a very interesting, recently published study by Statistics Canada on variations in the Canadian labor force from province to province.  While Northern Exposure is primarily focused on labor and employment legal developments, this study warrants our stepping a little out of our comfort zone in order to keep our readers well informed. The report will make interesting reading for employers deciding on where to locate operations or how to best develop your human resources strategies for different regions in Canada.

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Categories: Employer's Tip / Immigration

Wal-Mart gets its first union contract

August 26, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian P. Smeenk

Wal-Mart, which has until now apparently been union-free, has had a union contract imposed on it in Quebec. The contract covers an auto center, Tire & Lube Express, which is part of a store in Gatineau, near the Ontario border. The small group of about eight employees apparently received union certification three years ago.

Under Quebec’s Labour Code, an employer may have a union contract imposed on it by an arbitrator if it is unable to reach a collective agreement with the certified union. The normal bargaining process must first have failed.

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New human rights regime now in force in Ontario

August 19, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 0 COMMENTS

by Brian Smeenk

On June 30, 2008, new human rights legislation in Ontario came into force. The new regime radically changes the way in which human rights complaints are dealt with in Ontario. Employers, employees, and unions are watching closely to see how well the new system works.

1. Complainants given direct access to tribunal
Prior to June 30, 2008, complaints in Ontario were made to the Human Rights Commission. From there, the Commission mediated and investigated complaints. At the end of that process, which took four to five years in many cases, the Commission could dismiss a complaint or send it to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for a full hearing.

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Northern Exposure now with Fasken Martineau

August 12, 2008 - by: Brian Smeenk 1 COMMENTS

by Brian Smeenk

Just as Americans are considering how much change will occur in the context of the current election season, lots of change is happening north of the 49th parallel in the labor and employment field.

Not the least of which, from the perspective of this publication, is a change in law firm affiliation. Welcome to the first entry from the firm of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. Your editor-in-chief remains the same, but he, like this Northern Exposure blog, has found a new home.

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Beware Liability When Workers Talk on Phone While Driving

August 05, 2008 - by: Karen Sargeant 1 COMMENTS

by Karen Sargeant
former of McCarthy Tetrault

We have all heard the statistics (and it’s no surprise!) — driving while talking on a cell phone increases the likelihood of a car accident even if you use a “hands-free” set. At the same time, your employees have cell phones, iPhones, BlackBerries(R) and other personal data assistants (PDAs), which you know they use while commuting to and from work or while out and about on business. What’s worse, they may use these devices for company business, such as participating in conference calls or calling customers while driving.

Employers beware — you face significant risks under Canadian law if you allow this behavior to continue.

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Supreme Court of Canada Helps Employers with Duty to Accommodate Disabilities

July 29, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 2 COMMENTS

by Rachel Ravary
McCarthy Tetrault

Last week’s decision in Hydro Québec v. Syndicat des employé-e-s de techniques professionnelles et de bureau d’Hydro-Québec 2008 SCC 43 is good news for employers – finally there is a clear limit to your duty to accommodate employees who are chronically absent from work.

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Random Alcohol and Drug Testing in Safety-Sensitive Positions

July 22, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

By Rachel Ravary and Philippe Lacoursière
McCarthy Tetrault

Earlier this year, we reported on the decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal in Chiasson v. Kellogg Brown & Root (see the January 22, 2008, blog entry titled Ruling helps Alberta employers defend preemployment testing challenges), which upheld an employer’s right to perform mandatory preemployment alcohol and drug screening for safety-sensitive positions.

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Should Canadian Employers Give Employment References?

July 15, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 2 COMMENTS

By Tina Giesbrecht and Lana Jackson
McCarthy Tetrault

Employers often ask whether they should give employment references to employees and former employees. This decision can be a difficult one with possible negative consequences for either course of action. Whatever decision is made, it’s important to consistently apply one policy regarding reference letters.

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Categories: Employer's Tip / Q&A

Supreme Court Reverses Largest Wrongful Dismissal Punitive Damages Award in Canadian History

July 08, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 1 COMMENTS

By Kate McNeill, Kelly McDermott, and Donovan Plomp
McCarthy Tetrault

On Friday, June 27, 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) released its decision in Honda Canada Inc. v. Keays, reversing the largest award of punitive damages in a wrongful dismissal action in Canadian history. The decision is very favorable for employers.

Kevin Keays was a long service Honda employee who was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 1997. He returned to work after a period on long-term disability benefits. Honda exempted him from its attendance-related progressive discipline policy but required him to provide a medical note for each absence, which was not required of employees suffering “mainstream” illnesses.

Keays’ sporadic absences continued, and Honda hired Dr. B to assess Keays. Keays hired a lawyer, who wanted to clarify the purpose of the meeting with Dr. B. Honda refused to deal with Keays’ lawyer and made Keays subject to its attendance-related discipline policy. When he continued to refuse to meet with Dr. B without Honda clarifying the purpose of the meeting, Honda terminated his employment for insubordination. read more…

Employee Privacy Rights and Computer Data in Canada

July 01, 2008 - by: Northern Exposure 2 COMMENTS

by Barbara A. McIsaac, Helen Gray, and Daniel Pugen
McCarthy Tetrault

An employee’s expectation of privacy in the workplace is a big issue these days, especially with respect to the use of company computers.

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Categories: Employment Law

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