Compensation & Benefits

To ring in the New Year, we highlight the ten most significant developments in Canadian labour and employment law in 2020.

  1. The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) finds arbitration clause in standard form contract unenforceable. The SCC found that an arbitration clause included in Uber’s standard form driver contracts was unconscionable because the cost to

Last week, the Ontario Government amended O.Reg. 228/20 to extend deemed infectious disease emergency leave (“IDEL”) under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA“) from January 2, 2021 to July 3, 2021.

This is a second update to our previous blog post on O.Reg. 228/20, Ontario Files New ESA Regulation Affecting COVID-19-Related Leaves

Last week, the Government of Canada passed the Regulations Amending the Employment Equity Regulations (the “Amended Regulations“) introducing new pay transparency measures, effective January 1, 2021. The Amended Regulations aim to clarify and improve the data gathering processes that govern the reporting of salary data by federally regulated employers with 100 or more

The Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Fraser v. Canada (Attorney General), 2020 SCC 28 (“Fraser“) raises fundamental questions about how allegations of discrimination under human rights legislation and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Charter“) will be adjudicated in the future. At a minimum, employers should carefully review distinctions drawn under workplace policies, practices, and benefits plans—particularly distinctions between full-time employees, part-time employees, and employees on a leave of absence—to ensure those distinctions do not disproportionally impact women with children.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Revisits Workplace Discrimination in the Context of Pension Service Buy-Back

At common law, employers have a right to terminate an employment relationship, subject to reasonable notice of termination. When an employer breaches this implied duty, employees are entitled damages for wrongful dismissal, which presumptively include damages for lost incentive compensation unless an employer unequivocally ousts that right in an employment agreement or incentive plan. In Matthews v. Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that absent “absolutely clear and unambiguous” language in the employment agreement or the incentive plan restricting such entitlement, incentive compensation is considered part of the damages owed in lieu of common law reasonable notice.
Continue Reading SCC Reminds Employers of the Costly Implications of Imprecise Language in Incentive Compensation Plans

On July 17, 2020, the federal government announced that it would extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (“CEWS”) until December of 2020, and proposed several significant changes that will, among other things, allow more employers to access subsidies.

On July 20, 2020, the federal government introduced Bill C-20, An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures, to extend and adapt the CEWS program. On July 21, 2020, Bill C-20 received its third reading, and is expected to receive royal assent very soon. If passed, Bill C-20 will retroactively impact the CEWS program, generally commencing with the fifth qualifying period which commenced on July 5, 2020 (subject to a “safe harbour” discussed below).
Continue Reading Federal Government Extends & Amends Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program

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

On April 25, 2020, the Ontario government announced that it is providing frontline staff with a temporary pandemic payment. The payment compensates frontline workers for dedication, long hours, and increased risk while working to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

What does the payment include?

Eligible workers will receive an increase of four dollars per hour worked

This is an update to our recent blog post summarizing the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”). You can find the first part of our post, which summarizes the government’s original announcement, here.

On April 11, 2020, the federal government passed Bill C-14, amending the Income Tax Act to create the CEWS. The subsidy provides financial support to eligible employers for wages paid to eligible employees for the period from March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020 (divided into three qualifying periods), subject to a possible extension up to September 30, 2020.

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Q:        How does the program work?

A:        For each qualifying period, an eligible employer can claim, from the government, a capped wage subsidy for remuneration paid to each eligible employee.


Continue Reading Federal Government Creates Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy