NEWS OF THE MONTH
Ontario to require licences for all temporary worker agencies w.e.f Jan.1, 2024
The Ontario government has announced that as of January 1, 2024 all temporary help agencies operating within the province will be required to be licensed. In a press conference, Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton explained that the licensing requirement aims to address the unfair competitive advantage gained by these agencies through the use of below minimum wages for workers.
Many of the workers who join these agencies are temporary foreign workers who have come to Ontario for employment, making them vulnerable to exploitation resulting from wages below the legal minimum.
This policy was initially introduced as part of the Working for Workers Act in 2021 and will be implemented for the first time next year. As per the new licensing system, temporary help agencies will need to provide $25,000 in a letter of credit that can be used to repay owed wages to employees. These agencies will need to undergo a background check and will be subject to “massive fines” if they break the rules. Depending on the infraction, the agency could be asked to pay up to $50,000 or could receive “a lifetime ban of operating in Ontario.”
The legislation will make it illegal for employers to use unlicensed businesses for staffing as of Jan. 1, 2024. Furthermore, the system will include an online database for employers to verify whether an agency meets the licensing requirements before engaging in any working relationship.
THE LEGAL CORNER
Competition Bureau’s Guidelines on Wage-Fixing and No-Poach Agreements: Implications for Employers in Canada
The Competition Bureau of Canada has taken a significant stride in enhancing competition laws with the recent introduction of guidelines targeting the criminalization of wage-fixing and no-poach agreements between unrelated employers. This crucial amendment to the Canadian Competition Act aims to align the country’s regulations with international standards, mirroring those already in place in the United States and other jurisdictions. In effect since June 23, 2023, after a one-year grace period, these new guidelines mark a milestone in promoting fair competition and protecting the rights of workers. In this article, we explore the finer details of these groundbreaking changes, shedding light on their potential implications for businesses and the Canadian job market.
Webinar-Managing Leaves of Absence and Requesting Medical
Q&A-Managing Leaves of Absence and Requesting Medical
Federal Notice of Termination Amendments Starting February 1, 2024
Effective February 1, 2024, new notice of termination regulations will take effect under the Canada Labour Code. These regulations will mandate federally regulated employers to give individual employees graduated notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice, depending on their length of continuous employment.
For the first three years of employment, the entitlement remains the same, with two weeks’ notice required for employees who have completed at least three months of continuous service. Once an employee reaches three years of continuous employment, the notice period increases to three weeks. Subsequently, for each additional year of service completed, the notice period will increase by one week, reaching a maximum of eight weeks. Employers have the option to provide termination pay equivalent to the wages the employee would have earned during the notice period, or a combination of both notice and pay in lieu.
In addition, the amendments mandate employers to provide a statement of benefits to employees whose employment is terminated. This statement must comprehensively outline the employee’s entitlements to vacation benefits, wages, severance pay, and any other benefits and pay arising from their employment. Previously, this right to a benefits statement was limited to employees involved in a group termination. However, with this amendment, all employees whose employment is terminated will now have equal access to this benefits statement.
Bill 26 takes effect in Ontario
Ontario’s Bill 26, Strengthening Post-secondary Institutions and Students Act, has come into effect on July 1. This law mandates how post-secondary institutions in the province handle sexual relations and potential misconduct between employees and students. Employers in these institutions are now required to have policies in place that address sexual misconduct in accordance with the legislation. The law doesn’t specify exactly what needs to be the content of the policy document.
The law prohibits institutions from entering into agreements that would prevent the disclosure of allegations or complaints of sexual misconduct, which means they must be cautious when resolving potential or actual litigation involving both students and employees. The bill clarifies the definition of sexual misconduct and establishes rules regarding sexual relationships between students and educational employees.
Overall, the bill puts post-secondary institutions in Ontario under increased scrutiny and demands careful consideration of policies and actions related to sexual misconduct to protect the rights and safety of students and employees.
Ontario invests $2.6M in employment training for new immigrants
Minister of Labour and Immigration, Monte McNaughton, has announced that the Ontario government will be investing $2.6 million in specialized job training programs for new immigrants arriving in the province.This substantial investment will facilitate the development of four comprehensive training projects designed to empower over 300 newcomers, including individuals displaced from Afghanistan and Ukraine.
The primary objective of these initiatives is to equip them with the essential skills required to secure meaningful employment opportunities with local employers.
The training programs will focus on preparing jobseekers for promising careers across a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, finance, administration, communications, hospitality, and arts.
Ministry inspections starting in July
As part of the ministry’s planned health and safety campaign schedule for 2023-24, occupational health and safety inspectors began visiting workplaces across the province on July 4 to check for:
respiratory protection programs (occupational hygiene)
asbestos in building structures (occupational hygiene)
Two men charged in connection with forced labour at Sask. restaurants
Two men from Tisdale and Elrose in Saskatchewan are facing charges of human trafficking following an RCMP investigation involving forced labour at local restaurants.
The case involves a woman from Bangladesh who responded to a job ad and came to Saskatchewan from another province on a visitor’s permit, which was later converted to a working permit.
The woman was coerced to work long hours, 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for several months in restaurants located in Gull Lake, Elrose, and Tisdale.
During her off-duty hours, she was confined to a damp and poorly lit concrete basement. Her employers threatened to revoke her working permit or involve the police if she did not comply with their demands and strict schedule.
The RCMP arrested two men from Tisdale and another man from Elrose, with one of the Tisdale men facing additional charges of sexual assault. The investigation is ongoing, and the RCMP suspects there may be more victims involved in this alleged trafficking operation. They urge anyone with information on this case or any suspected human trafficking incidents to come forward and report to the police or Crime Stoppers.
Saskatchewan seeing record high employment numbers
Saskatchewan has reached a milestone in employment, with a record-high number of people working in the province.
According to the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training, June employment figures showed 604,700 individuals employed, the highest ever recorded. Both Regina and Saskatoon also experienced record employment levels, with 148,300 and 198,800 people employed, respectively.
Over the past year, Saskatchewan has added 3,300 new jobs, including 1,800 since May 2023.
The province’s unemployment rate in June stood at 4.7%, below the national average of 5.4%. Significant job gains were observed in sectors such as transportation and warehousing, business and support services, and professional, scientific, and technical services.
Minister Jeremy Harrison expressed optimism about the provincial economy’s future, highlighting consistent job growth over the past two years, increased labour participation rates, and ongoing private capital investments that contribute to Saskatchewan’s continued growth.
Northwest Territories announce Minimum wage boost in September
Effective Sept. 1, 2023, the minimum wage in the Northwest Territories will increase from $15.20 per hour to $16.05 per hour, representing an increase of 5.6 per cent.
The government of the Northwest Territories has announced its intention to raise the minimum wage in response to an increase in the consumer price index. This follows the previous minimum wage increase of $1.74 in September 2021, which had remained unchanged since April 2018.
Going forward, the minimum wage will be adjusted annually in September. Notably, this marks the first time a new formula will be implemented, considering the percentage change in the consumer price index for Yellowknife and the average hourly wage in the territory for the previous calendar year.
Alberta mother sues Starbucks for wrongful termination amid alleged COVID-19 policy violations
A single mother from Alberta is suing Starbucks for wrongful termination after losing her job for allegedly violating the company’s COVID-19 policies, despite claiming that she only continued to work because her manager instructed her to do so.
The woman had been employed at Starbucks since August 2017 and had received positive performance reviews and awards during her tenure. Her job provided financial stability and flexibility to care for her disabled son.
She did not receive any severance from Starbucks, and her lawyer argues that her termination was arbitrary.
Starbucks Canada is yet to file a defense in response to the lawsuit. The woman claims that she informed her manager about feeling unwell and experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms but continued working due to staffing shortages and previous permission from her manager. She later tested negative for COVID-19 but was terminated without cause. After her termination, she received a diagnosis of a rare and incurable blood cancer. The lawsuit also mentions the loss of a life insurance policy she had through Starbucks.
The woman’s lawyer emphasizes the emotional and financial impact of her termination and states that they are waiting for Starbucks’ statement of defense.
Unveiling British Columbia’s Pay Transparency Act: Essential Takeaways for Employers
The Pay Transparency Act (the “Act”) in British Columbia (BC) has come into effect as of May 11, 2023, bringing with it a host of new regulations and responsibilities for BC employers operating under provincial jurisdiction.
This legislation imposes significant requirements on employers, with the goal of addressing the ongoing issue of the gender pay gap and fostering equitable compensation practices. To assist you, we have provided a summarized overview of these new provisions for your convenience.
- Once a month 37% 37%
- Every few months 21% 21%
- Once or twice a year 16% 16%
- Never 26% 26%
Are unpaid internships illegal in Canada?
- Not Sure
- Rules vary with jurisdiction
Vice President of Operations, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel
“Recruiting is labour intensive, you spend probably more than 50 per cent of the time going through candidates that shouldn’t have even applied. So to have someone else screen through them, a huge time saving worth the fee[…]the benefit was that it freed up me to do other things[…]like a lot of charities I wear a lot of hats; finance, HR and IT, all three are more than ever taking up a lot of time and even just screening the candidates was a big help and it took that off my plate “