Bill C-74 Receives Royal Assent

New Legislation Enacted

Bill C-74, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018. Initiatives of interest to employers include allowing part-time or occasional workers to keep 50 cents of their employment insurance benefits for every dollar earned in wages, up to a maximum of 90% of the weekly insurable earnings used to determine the EI benefit. Also, retirement benefits will increase for parents who take time off work to care for children and persons with disabilities, and reductions applied to a survivor’s pension for survivors under the age of 45 will be removed.

Blood Drug Concentration Limits to Measure Marijuana “Impairment”

New Legislation Enacted

Bill C-46, which authorized the Governor-in-Council to establish blood drug concentration limits to measure “impairment” in the operation of a motor vehicle, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018. Although the recreational use of marijuana will be legal in Canada effective October 17, 2018, employees will not have the absolute right to use marijuana in the workplace. However, employers may establish an objective standard for marijuana “impairment” in their workplace policies using the blood drug concentration limits.

Ontario Court of Appeal: Guidelines on Enforceability of Termination Clauses

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

In June 2018, the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that (a) where a termination clause can reasonably be interpreted in more than one way, the interpretation that favors the employee should be preferred; (b) where an employment contract is prepared by the employer on a more or less “take it or leave it” basis, and there is a genuine ambiguity, the more favorable interpretation should be given to the employee; and (c) the question of whether there is an ambiguity is to be determined by an objective evaluation of whether there are two or more reasonable interpretations.

Bill C-81 Introduced by Federal Government 2018 at First Reading

Proposed Bill or Initiative

Bill C-81, an Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, which the federal government recently introduced, is now at First Reading. This accessibility law seeks to identify, remove, and prevent “barriers” defined in the Act as “…anything architectural, physical, technological, or attitudinal…that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with a physical, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or sensory impairment, or a functional limitation.” The law will apply to certain federal-regulated employers and will be enforced through inspections, a complaint process, and financial penalties.

Initiative to Update the Canada Labour Code

Proposed Bill or Initiative

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour recently announced that robust and modern updates to the Canada Labour Code will be introduced by May 2019, with key focuses on restoring work-life balance and providing better protections to part-time, temporary, and contract workers. The proposed amendments will be informed by the findings on “What we heard: Modernizing federal labour standards”, a report that summarizes the views shared during consultations with unions and labor organizations, employers and employer organizations, academics, experts, and advocacy groups.