Employment Law

Bill 47 and Impacts to Employment Standards in Ontario

November 12th, 2018 by Brynn Leger

On October 23, 2018, the Ontario government announced changes to employment standards in the province in the form of Bill 47, dubbed the “Making Ontario Open for Business Act.” The proposed changes will largely undo the amendments made to employment and labour legislation last year with the Liberal government’s Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

Here, we will provide an overview of some of the major changes coming to employment standards in the province. Read the rest of this entry

Striking a Balance: The Case of the Guide Dog and the Taxicab

October 3rd, 2018 by Brynn Leger

What do you do when human rights of one person compete with another’s? Employers, housing providers, and other public service providers have a duty to accommodate those with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code). Sometimes, however, these obligations lead to conflict between multiple people in need of accommodation. An example of this that has been felt by housing providers and employers is the tension between persons with service animals and other persons with allergies. Some people in need of accommodation rely on service animals to assist them. But people suffering from allergies to dogs can’t be expected to live and work in an environment that does not accommodate their needs. How does an employer or a housing provider address these competing obligations to accommodate these persons in a fair manner that complies with the Code? Read the rest of this entry

Legalization of Cannabis: Important Considerations for Housing Providers & Employers

September 14th, 2018 by Safia Lakhani

With the impending legalization of cannabis, we have received requests from a number of housing providers to assist in developing policies that deal with the use and growth of cannabis in units. We have also received requests from employers around policies that prohibit the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace. While policies should be crafted to suit a particular workplace or residence, below are a few considerations that employers and housing providers should bear in mind when creating rules around cannabis: Read the rest of this entry

Medical cannabis benefits denied: How statutory insurance plans can avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits

April 26th, 2018 by Michael Hackl

As we move toward the legalization of recreational cannabis, I thought it would be interesting to look at a recent case dealing with medical cannabis and the efforts of one person to get assistance from his province’s workers’ compensation board to contribute to the cost of the medical cannabis prescribed to him.

The case of Skinner v. Nova Scotia (Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal) provides insight into how the use of medical cannabis is sometimes still perceived as an unconventional treatment despite having been legal in Canada for almost two decades, and also how administrative law gives statutory insurance schemes ways to avoid providing benefits to individuals seeking coverage for medically prescribed treatment. Read the rest of this entry

Chronic work stress? Amendments will let more people qualify for workers’ compensation, but questions remain about how the changes will be applied

February 26th, 2018 by Michael Hackl

January 1, 2018 was a banner day for employee’s rights and protections in Ontario.

In addition to changes to the Employment Standards Act that came into force on January 1 (see our previous blog post here), a new entitlement for benefits under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (the WSIA) for “chronic or traumatic mental stress arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment” also came into effect that day.

An entitlement under the WSIA simply means that a worker who meets those criteria is entitled to benefits under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) insurance plan. So, for example, the act states that a “worker who sustains a personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of his or her employment is entitled to benefits under the insurance plan.”

Previously, the WSIA provided that a worker suffering from mental stress was not entitled to benefits unless the stress was “an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event arising out of and in the course of his or her employment” – far too high a bar for many workers. As an example, prior to January 1, an employee might have been entitled to benefits if he or she experienced mental stress because they had been involved in or witnessed a horrific accident in the course of their employment, but not if they experienced mental stress due to an ongoing course of events, such as persistent harassment. Under the new entitlement the later scenario may be covered; the WSIA may provide benefits for mental stress resulting from an ongoing course of events.

Read the rest of this entry

Could #MeToo happen in your organization? Consider a Human Rights workshop

February 8th, 2018 by Celia Chandler

From Hollywood to Queen’s Park, every employer is thinking about how to make sure that employees are free from sexual harassment in the workplace.  This includes non‑profits which employ staff.  And it goes double for housing providers which must make an environment free from harassment and discrimination  for their employees and for their tenants or co‑op members.  No easy feat.  Our clients are educating themselves to be on top of this stuff.

Last weekend I spent a couple of hours with a housing co‑op board in Brampton delivering a workshop on human rights and the duty to accommodate;  next week I’m off to a Hamilton co‑op to do the same, this time for the board, staff and interested members.

If you’d like someone from our firm to come to your next board meeting for training on human rights or any other area of law where we practise, please ask.   We think our fees for these tailor‑made presentations are pretty reasonable.  And you know what they say ‑‑ an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.