British Columbia Extends Family Leave Policies

New Legislation Enacted

On May 17, 2018, British Columbia amended legislation to give employees in the province pregnancy, parental, and compassionate care leaves. The Employment Standards Amendment Act provides generous and flexible leave policies that are consistent with insurance benefits. The Act also creates job-protected leave for parents who lose a child and for those with a child under the age of 19 who go missing in connection with a crime. British Columbia’s Minister of Labour indicated that a more comprehensive review of the Act and additional amendments can be expected.

Ontario Government Passes the Pay Transparency Act

New Legislation Enacted

In an effort to advance economic equality, in April 2018, Ontario passed the Pay Transparency Act. Effective January 1, 2019, the Act prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s compensation history, requires employers to include a range of expected compensation in public job postings, and subjects employers to compensation audits. Employers with 100 or more employees will be required to prepare a report showing compensation gaps based on gender and diversity. The Act allows employees to inquire into pay differences without the threat of reprisal from their employer.

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario Declares Section of OHRC Unconstitutional

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

On May 18, 2018, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) declared in Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board, that section 25(2.1) of the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC), which allowed employers to terminate employee benefits at age 65, was unconstitutional. The Tribunal’s view was that the distinction created by section 25(2.1) was a prima facie violation of section 15 of the Charter, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of age. Employers in Ontario who provide group health benefits but terminate employee entitlement at age 65 should be aware of the Talos decision.

Nova Scotia Appellate Court: Denial of Medical Marijuana Coverage is Not Discriminatory

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

On April 12, 2018, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal established that administrators of employee group benefit plans have the discretion to set limits on plan coverage and the denial of coverage for medical marijuana does not constitute discrimination. The plan did not cover medical marijuana because it was not approved by Health Canada and the employee had access to any medication available to the other eligible members. As there was no connection between the employee’s disability and the decision to deny him coverage, the Court found there was no discrimination.

Ontario’s Police Record Checks Reform Act Takes Effect in November

Upcoming Deadline for Legal Compliance

On April 25, 2018, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor announced that the Police Record and Checks Reform Act would be effective November 1, 2018. The Act, which originally received Royal Assent in December 2015, limits the disclosure of mental health and non-conviction information, except in a vulnerable sector check, but only once the test for exceptional disclosure is met. The Act also sets out a system for the disclosure of information in record checks. Employers in Ontario may need to adjust their approach to requesting background checks on applicants in order to ensure compliance with the Act.