Ontario’s Police Record and Checks Reform Act, 2015 Came into Force on November 1, 2018

New Legislation Enacted

Ontario’s Bill 133, the Police Record and Checks Reform Act, 2015, which applies to police record checks conducted to determine suitability for employment, among other things, came into force on November 1, 2018. The statute, inter alia, authorizes police services in Ontario to conduct three types of police record checks (criminal record checks, criminal record and judicial matter checks, and vulnerable sector checks), standardizes the process for conducting them, and prohibits the police record check provider from disclosing information unless authorized to do so under the law.

Canada is First Major World Economy to Legalize Recreational Marijuana at a Federal Level

New Legislation Enacted

On October 17, 2018, Canada’s Cannabis Act and supporting regulations came into force, making it the first major world economy to establish a legal framework for the recreational use of cannabis by adults at the federal level. The legalization of recreational cannabis does not provide employees with a right to use it in the workplace and employers are entitled to establish policies prohibiting its use and possession in the workplace. Employers have a duty to accommodate the use of cannabis by employees medically authorized to do so and those suffering from an addiction to it, unless such accommodation creates an undue hardship to the employer.

British Columbia Introduces Bill to Establish a Human Rights Commission

Proposed Bill or Initiative

On November 1, 2018, the government of the British Columbia introduced Bill 50, Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2018, which in its current form will establish a Human Rights Commission responsible for promoting and protecting human rights. If enacted, Bill 50 will increase the time limit for filing a discrimination complaint from six months to 12 months from the last alleged instance of a contravention of the Code, and will give the Commission the right to intervene in complaints and jurisdiction “to assist a person or group of persons with any aspect of a complaint.”

Date Ontario’s Pay Transparency Act Will Commence Delayed Indefinitely

Proposed Bill or Initiative

On November 15, 2018, Ontario’s government introduced Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018, which received Royal Assent on December 6, 2018 (effective date to be determined). In its current form, the Act aims to “increase transparency in hiring processes and give women more information when negotiating compensation that is equal to their male peers.” The Act, inter alia, prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their compensation history; permits employees to share information on their compensation with other employees; and prohibits employers from engaging in or threatening reprisal against employees who do so.

Alberta Securities Commission Creates a Whistleblower Program and Office of the Whistleblower

Important Action by Regulatory Agency

On November 1, 2018, the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) established a whistleblower program and created the Office of the Whistleblower, all for the purpose of encouraging employees to voluntarily report potential breaches of Alberta’s securities laws to the ASC, and to protect them from reprisals. The program simplifies reporting, protects the whistleblower’s identity, prohibits reprisals (and makes them subject to administrative penalties of up to $1,000,000 and, in an appropriate case, to prosecution as an offence, with fines up to $5,000,000 and/or terms of imprisonment), and makes a civil right of action available should a reprisal occur.

View additional Canadian federal statutory changes and other notable changes in the Canadian federal sphere.