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Jordan Kirkness advises and represents employers in all areas of labour and employment law. Jordan is experienced in litigation, negotiation, and compliance, and he is committed to identifying the most practical, cost-effective and permanent solution in each case. Before joining Baker McKenzie in 2013, Jordan practiced at a large, full-service firm in Vancouver. He has been called to the bar in both British Columbia and Ontario, and he regularly represents employers with operations in multiple Canadian jurisdictions.

On May 15, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”) will be extended for an additional 12-week period to August 29, 2020. At the same time, the government announced retroactive regulatory changes, and legislative proposals expected to come into force at a later date. These changes were introduced in an effort to promote employment and stimulate economic recovery as restrictions are gradually lifted across Canada.

Immediate Changes to CEWS Eligibility:

The government introduced a series of regulations extending eligibility for the CEWS to the following categories of employers:

  • Partnerships with one or more non-eligible members will be eligible so long as non-eligible entity partners control a minority of the partnership’s interests at fair market value during the qualifying period;
  • Indigenous government-owned corporations that are carrying on a business and are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(d.5) of the Income Tax Act, their wholly-owned subsidiaries that are carrying on a business and are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(d.6) of the Income Tax Act, as well as partnerships where the partners are members of Indigenous governments and eligible employers;
  • Non-public education and training institutions, including for-profit and non-profit private colleges, schools, and institutions (i.e., arts schools, language schools, driving schools, flight schools and culinary schools);
  • National-level Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations that are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(g) of the Income Tax Act; and
  • Registered Journalism Organizations that are tax-exempt under paragraph 149(1)(h) of the Income Tax Act.


Continue Reading Federal Government Extends the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

As Ontario prepares to reopen the economy, the province is providing employers with safety guidelines to protect workers, customers, and the general public from COVID-19. The guidelines provide practical recommendations so that employers reopen in a safe and responsible way.
Continue Reading Ontario Releases Safety Guidelines for Reopening to Protect Public from COVID-19

All Canadian provinces have adopted emergency measures requiring the closure of non-essential businesses, and today the Ontario government revised its list of “essential businesses”. To help you keep up with these changes, we have provided a chart below that includes a hyperlink to the current essential service list in each province, and lists the potential penalties for failure to comply in each jurisdiction.
Continue Reading Non-Essential Business Shutdowns Across Canada

The spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus — the virus responsible for COVID-19 — is now anticipated to reach pandemic levels. Officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada reiterate that the risk of a mass outbreak in Canada remains low, but have encouraged and enforced precautionary measures.

Employers should continue to be vigilant in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace. In addition to our previous client alert, employers should be mindful of the following checklist:

1. Appoint one or more coordinators who will be responsible for tracking and communicating the latest developments of COVID-19. The coordinator(s) should have the authority to make or advise on emergency decisions such as office closures and meeting cancellations.

  • According to the size of the employer’s organization, a cross-functional team may be necessary with designated individuals to handle issues such as employee health and safety, medical/personal leaves and accommodations, communications, and compliance.


Continue Reading COVID-19 Checklist for Canadian Employers

To ring in the New Year, we highlight the ten most significant developments in Canadian labour and employment law in 2019.
Continue Reading Top 10 Canadian Labour & Employment Law Developments of 2019

On December 10, 2019, Bill 132: Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019, received Royal Assent. Bill 132 amends many existing statutes to modernize outdated and ineffective regulatory requirements, aiming to increase regulatory efficiency. Amendments to the Ontario Pension Benefits Act (“PBA”) will give rise to the following key changes:

  1. Electronic Communications: Members

On November 7, 2019, Bill 124: Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019, received Royal Assent. The Act imposes compensation restraints on certain public sector employees with the aim of giving employers in the broader public sector a measure of predictability as to their future payroll cost increases.
Continue Reading Wage Caps in Store for Ontario’s Broader Public Sector

In City of Toronto v. CUPE, Local 79, the Ontario Divisional Court reaffirmed that employers may provide less compensation to an employee who works reduced hours due to a disability without violating the Human Rights Code (“Code”). In this case, the employer discontinued its past practice of permitting employees working part-time hours to remain in the full-time bargaining unit. The change meant that the grievor, who worked part-time hours as an accommodation for his disabilities, suffered a reduction in his benefit entitlements. The Court held that the reduction to the grievor’s benefit entitlements was not discriminatory under the Code.
Continue Reading Less Benefits for Less Work is Not Discrimination – Reaffirmed by Divisional Court

Monday, October 21, 2019 is federal election day.  Under the Canada Elections Act, employees who are eligible to vote are entitled to three consecutive hours of time off to vote without a reduction in pay. The three consecutive hours must fall within the open hours of local polling stations, which are as follows:
Continue Reading Time Off to Vote: Employee Voting Entitlements on Federal Election Day