On August 4, 2017, Premier John Horgan announced the Government’s intent to re-establish a human rights commission. The British Columbia Human Rights Commission was dismantled about 15 years ago. Currently British Columbia has a direct access model allowing complaints to be brought directly to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. In jurisdictions with commissions (in other provinces and federally) complaints must first proceed through an investigation process with a human rights commission.
On June 19, 2017, Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, received Royal Assent. As a result, “gender identity” and “gender expression” are now prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act (the “Act”). In particular, section 3(1) of the Act now reads:
Prohibited grounds of discrimination
3 (1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for an … Continue Reading
On June 22, 2017, Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act, came into effect. This legislation changes certification and decertification rules for federally regulated workplaces. For more information, please visit the blog post “Federal Government Restores Former Certification and Decertification Processes for Unionization in Federal Workplaces” prepared by our colleagues in Toronto.… Continue Reading
Last week, the Government of Alberta tendered and passed first reading of Bill 17: Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act . Bill 17 proposes a number of amendments to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code. If passed, these amendments will have a significant impact on employers’ policies, practices and business as a whole.
For more information on the proposed changes, please visit the blog post “Bill 17 – Proposed Changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code” prepared by our colleagues in Calgary.… Continue Reading
On April 7, 2017, the BC Government issued a press release on having fulfilled its promise to ban mandatory high heels from BC workplaces. The change was made by amending section 8.22 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (“OHS Regulation”), and is explained by WorkSafeBC’s recently adopted OHS Guideline G8.22Footwear regarding section 8.22 of the OHS Regulation.
The Guideline provides that “footwear must both allow the workers to perform their work safely and provide the protection required for the particular environment.” Employers must conduct an assessment of the risks present in their particular workplace and duties of the employee … Continue Reading
On March 20, 2017, the Province of British Columbia announced significant changes to the jurisdiction of the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) and Provincial Court to address small claims court matters.
Since June 2016, British Columbians have turned to the CRT to resolve strata property disputes online. Effective June 1, 2017, it will be mandatory for most disputes up to $5,000 to use the CRT. This change will capture almost all employment-related disputes up to $5,000, which would otherwise have proceeded in small claims court. The CRT’s online process is intended to be efficient, accessible, and inexpensive, and can be accessed … Continue Reading
In British Columbia, a workplace with 20 or more workers must have a joint occupational health and safety committee (“Committee”), and a workplace with 10-19 workers must have a worker health and safety representative. Effective April 3, 2017, amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation will require the following:
- Employers must ensure that a written evaluation is conducted annually to measure the effectiveness of the Committee. Section 3.26(b) of the Regulation sets out who can conduct the evaluation, and section 3.26(3) of the Regulation sets out what information must be covered by the evaluation. WorkSafeBC reports that it
The Provincial Immigration Programs Act, S.B.C. 2015, c. 37 (“PIPA“) and the Provincial Immigration Programs Regulation (“Regulation“) came into effect on February 1, 2017.
PIPA strengthens the administration of the Province’s immigration programs and designates decision-making authority for the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (“PNP“) to the director, provincial immigration programs.
The Regulation governs the delivery of the PNP, which is British Columbia’s only direct economic immigration tool. Specifically, the Regulation:
- grants authority to collect PNP fees,
- sets out the amount of PNP fees,
- allows for inspections to be conducted to monitor compliance
On November 30, 2016, the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation presented its Final Report to the federal government. The Report sets out recommendations to the federal government “on the design of a new system to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis.” This brings the federal government one step closer to legalizing cannabis in Canada.
The full report, titled A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada: The Final Report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, is now available for download. Noteworthy to employers are the Task Force’s … Continue Reading
Following our previous post on the British Columbia government’s bill to amend the Human Rights Code [Code] earlier this year, the bill recently received royal assent and “gender identity and gender expression” are now expressly included in the Code as protected grounds.
Though the meaning and application of these new protected grounds will need to be fleshed out by Tribunal and court decisions, the Tribunal’s website now provides the following descriptions:
Gender Expression: Gender expression is how a person presents their gender. This can include behaviour and appearance, including dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice. This … Continue Reading
WorkSafeBC recently announced public consultation and hearings into proposed changes to regulations under the Workers’ Compensation Act, including environmental tobacco smoke, e-cigarette vapour and joint health and safety committees. Details of the proposed changes, together with explanatory notes, can be found at the foregoing link.
WorkSafeBC is accepting public feedback until October 7, 2016, which can be provided online, by email, fax or by mail (details in the link provided).
A number of public hearings will also be held throughout British Columbia, commencing September 21, 2016.
Consider taking this opportunity to review the potential impacts of the proposed changes … Continue Reading
British Columbia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton, announced on Wednesday, July 20, 2016, that the government will introduce a bill next week to amend British Columbia’s Human Rights Code [Code] to include “gender identity and gender expression” as protected grounds. This announcement reflects a change in the government’s policy, which for years maintained that it was not necessary to amend the Code because the language was already sufficient to protect the rights of transgendered people.
Employment and Social Development Canada recently released a Discussion Paper on Flexible Work Arrangements, signaling potential changes to the Canada Labour Code (“Code”). The Discussion Paper follows on the federal government’s November 2015 mandate to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to amend the Code in order to allow workers in federally regulated sectors to formally request flexible work arrangements from their employers. Employers would then be obliged to respond to such requests, and could only deny requests on “reasonable business grounds”. Changes to the Code would affect some 880,000 employees working for over 11,450 employers in federally … Continue Reading
Much has been said about the recent agreement in principle between 8 of the 10 provincial finance ministers and the federal finance minister to expand the Canada Pension Plan. Our colleagues in Ontario have posted their thoughts on the matter, which includes a useful summary on the agreement, links to further details, some implications for employers – both generally and specifically in Ontario – and steps that employers should take to anticipate the expected changes.… Continue Reading
Pension plans can be a very helpful retention mechanism for good employees (and, it must be noted, bad ones too), and many larger employers offer them to their employees as part of their overall compensation package. However, the cost and complexity of pension plans have also meant that they may not be considered by most smaller employers. Recent legislative enactments have attempted to address this.
In 2012, the federal government enacted the Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act, creating Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) at the federal level, in an effort to make large-scale defined contributions pension plans available to … Continue Reading
Federally-regulated employers may soon be seeing changes to privacy and human rights laws in relation to genetic information. On June 9, 2015, the federal Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-68, otherwise known as the Protection Against Genetic Discrimination Act. The bill is aimed at better protecting persons’ genetic information in Canada. The latest version of the bill can be found here.
Bill C-68 will clarify the law relating to the use, collection, and disclosure of genetic information by amending three pieces of federal legislation: the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA) … Continue Reading
Before the Babine and Lakeland sawmill disasters in 2012, employers were already under an obligation to investigate any workplace incident involving serious injury or death, major structural failure or collapse, major release of a hazardous substance, a blasting accident that caused personal injury, a dangerous incident involving explosive, a diving accident, any accident or other incident that resulted in injury to a worker requiring medical treatment, and any near misses.
New fees and regulatory changes for the TFWP are set to take effect on February 21, 2015. Our colleagues in Montréal have published a helpful article to help employers understand how these new fees and regulatory changes may impact their engagement with the TFWP. The full text of the article can be read here.
In light of the scrutiny the TFWP has been experiencing of late, this may not be the last set of changes … Continue Reading
Until last Friday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was Canada’s only police force that was legislatively prohibited from unionizing. On January 16, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 1, that the exclusion of RCMP members from the definition of “employee” under the Public Service Labour Relations Act (Canada) [PSLRA] and the Staff Relations Representative Program (“SRRP”) infringed on RCMP members’ freedom of association under s.2(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This decision overrules the Court’s previous decision in Delisle v. Canada … Continue Reading
Private member’s Bill M 211-2014, titled Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights Recognition Act, passed first reading in the BC Legislature on November 20, 2014. If eventually given royal assent, the bill will amend the definition of ‘sex’ under the Human Rights Code to include “gender identity” and “gender expression”.
The full text of the bill can be read here. We will be sure to keep you updated as this bill makes its way through the Legislature and of its impact on human rights law in the province.… Continue Reading
In every jurisdiction in Canada, employees and employers share the responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. In British Columbia, employers are required by the Workers Compensation Act [WCA], to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others working at their work place, which includes investigating safety risks and advising employees of same, and taking steps to eliminate or mitigate identified risks. Likewise, employees have obligations to protect their own and others’ health and safety, including reporting fit to work, wearing protective equipment, following safety procedures, and reporting any safety risks.
One aspect of … Continue Reading
Despite an employer’s legitimate basis for terminating an employee’s employment, it will often find itself a respondent to a human rights complaint following termination. The costs for employers to defend a human rights complaint can be very high and, unlike in the courts, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to order unsuccessful parties to pay the successful party’s legal fees. However, in exceptional circumstances, the Tribunal has a limited jurisdiction under the Human Rights Code to make punitive costs awards for “improper conduct” that impacts the integrity of the Tribunal’s processes.
The Tribunal found such circumstances to … Continue Reading
Following on its new complaint and application forms introduced earlier this year, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal recently issued new Rules of Practice and Procedure (the “2014 Rules”), replacing its former Rules from January 2008. The 2014 Rules are directed at reducing the number of rules and streamlining and simplifying the complaint resolution process.
Some of the changes in the Tribunal’s 2014 Rules that employers should take note of include the following:
- The Tribunal has done away with its previous “complaint stream” process;
- The Tribunal has better articulated resources under the new Rules to defer complaints or adopt alternate
On June 20, 2014, the B.C. Government announced a host of new liquor laws that will be of interest to B.C. employers. Regulations that came into force under Bill-15, also known as the Liquor Control and Licensing Amendment Act, 2014, amend the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation to permit:
- licensed establishments to vary drink prices and provide “happy hour” pricing at different times throughout the day; however, happy hour prices cannot go below prescribed minimums and must be set in advance;
- businesses that retail or manufacture alcoholic beverages to market their wares in a broader range of venues