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

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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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Paying Foreign and Canadian Crews Comparable Wages Not Good Enough

March 10, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

By Thora Sigurdson, Nicola Sutton, and Derek Knoechel

SELI Canada Inc. entered into a joint venture with SNC Lavalin and successfully bid on a contract to build a large rapid transit project in the Vancouver area. The so-called “Canada Line” has been a “hot button” project, causing heated debate about the cost to taxpayers, the disruption to businesses and traffic, and the use of foreign workers.

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Can Employers Use Biometrics in Their Canadian Workplaces?

March 03, 2009 - by: Northern Exposure 0 COMMENTS

by Lisa Chamandy

Employers in Canada are beginning to use biometric scans to replace traditional lock-and-key or card-swipe systems. Sensors record fingerprint-like information, and computers transform the data into a mathematical formula, usually comprised of 0s and 1s.

The system then deletes the image, keeping only a template corresponding to 2 percent of the fingertip. It’s the formula, not the fingerprint-like image, that’s stored in the system’s computers.

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