Workplace Organization & Direction

Special thanks to our articling student Mario Lofranco for contributing to this update.

In a previous blog post, we discussed the proposed changes that Bill 149 would bring to several employment statutes, building on the Working for Workers Acts, 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Bill 149 received royal assent on March

To wrap up 2023, we have highlighted the key developments in Canadian labour and employment law, with a focus on Ontario.

1. Ontario’s Working for Workers Acts

In 2023, the Ontario government continued building on previous legislation by passing Bill 79, Working for Workers Act, 2023, and introducing Bill 149, Working for Workers Four Act, 2023. These two bills are the latest in a series of legislative changes expanding employee rights which started with Bill 27 and Bill 88, passed in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Bill 79, Working for Workers Act, 2023, received royal assent on October 26, 2023. Some of its key changes include:

  • The inclusion of remote employees in the head count for mass termination thresholds under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA“);
  • An increase from $1.5 million to $2 million in the maximum fine that may be imposed on a corporation under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act; and
  • An expansion of eligibility criteria for reservist leave to include employees in treatment, recovery or rehabilitation for an illness or injury resulting from participation in certain reservist operations or activities.

Please consult our previous blog post for more detailed information on this Bill.

If passed, Bill 149, Working for Workers Four Act, 2023, which carried second reading on November 23, 2023 and was referred to a standing committee on social policy, would also introduce significant changes to a number of Ontario employment-related statutes. Among them, the Bill would require employers to disclose pay information in job postings (i.e., expected compensation or a range of expected compensation), and whether they use artificial intelligence in the hiring process. Additionally, and in an effort to eliminate discriminatory requirements towards immigrants, employers would also be prohibited from requiring Canadian experience. For more information on these changes, please read our previous blog post on the topic. 

2. Legislative Push for Pay Transparency in Canada

The past year has also seen a growing pay transparency trend, both in Canada and abroad, intended to help bridge the pay gap for historically-disadvantaged groups. Among the latest developments in this area, British Columbia passed the Pay Transparency Act, creating new obligations for employers to disclose certain pay information in publicly-advertised job postings, and to prepare annual pay transparency reports if they qualify as a “reporting employer” under the legislation. This new law also prohibits reprisal against employees for discussing or inquiring about their pay or for asking the employer to comply with its statutory pay transparency obligations.

Other provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island have passed similar legislation. We covered this pay transparency trend in greater detail in two blog posts, accessible here and here. Ontario is also expected to amend the ESA to require the disclosure of certain pay information in job postings as part of Bill 179, as discussed above.  

3. New Tort of Harassment

Alberta recently became the first Canadian province to recognize the tort of harassment. The development is significant because it departs from Ontario and British Columbia, which have declined to recognize the tort.

In Alberta Health Services v Johnston2023 ABKB 209, the Alberta Court of King’s Bench recognized the tort of harassment because the harm in question could not be adequately addressed by any existing torts.  In this case, Alberta Health Services (“AHS”) and two of its senior employees sued Mr. Johnston for defamation, invasion of privacy, assault and harassment. Mr. Johnston, an online talk show host and mayoral candidate, used his talk show to frequently criticize the AHS’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He referred to the AHS as Nazis and suggested that they should be subject to violent attacks. He targeted one AHS employee, Ms. Nunn, by sharing photos from her social media accounts, attacking her family and alleging she was an alcoholic.

The Court awarded Ms. Nunn, among other things, $100,000 in general damages for harassment.

In recognizing the tort, Justice Feasby canvassed existing case law across the country and found that no existing torts squarely addressed the harms caused by the harassment in question. Justice Feasby determined the tort of harassment exists where a defendant has:

  1. Engaged in repeated communications, threats, insults, stalking, or other harassing behaviour in person or through other means;
  2. That he/she knew or ought to have known was unwelcome;
  3. Which impugn the dignity of the plaintiff, would cause a reasonable person to fear for his/her safety or the safety of his/her loved ones, or could foreseeably cause emotional distress; and
  4. Caused harm.

Besides the tort of harassment, other legal avenues that victims of harassment-related claims may pursue include human rights claims, occupational health and safety claims, a complaint with the police and, in Nova Scotia, an application for a cyber-protection order.

Employers should be aware of the legal remedies that may be available to victims of bullying and harassment, including the newly recognized tort of harassment in Alberta. More information can be found on our blog post here.Continue Reading Top Canadian Labour & Employment Law Developments of 2023

We are proud to share that Baker McKenzie was recognized as one of Greater Toronto’s Top Employers (2024). Our office was selected for its culture of inclusion, friendship and support for employee development.

Inclusion is at our core, as Ajanthana shared:

“As a global law firm, we work very closely with our colleagues around the

Special thanks to our articling student Ravneet Minhas for contributing to this update.

With pervasive inflation and an uncertain job market, many Canadians are emerging from the pandemic with bolder workforce demands. For example, in the spring of 2023, federal public servants made headlines with the largest strike in Canadian history. More recently, 3,000 Metro

Special thanks to our Baker McKenzie speakers Jim HollowayTheo Ling and Usman Sheikhand Industry Leaders Mark Crestohl, Senior Counsel, Accenture, Diana Drappel, Assistant General Counsel, Royal Bank of Canada, Levin Karg, Manager, Ontario Securities Commission, and Raees Nakhuda, Senior Counsel, Thomson Reuters.

Baker McKenzie is pleased to invite you to a breakfast symposium

Special thanks to authors Arlan Gates and Justine Johnston.

The Canadian Competition Act was recently amended to, among other things, criminalize wage-fixing and no-poach agreements between unaffiliated employers1. Following a one-year grace period that permitted Canadian employers to ensure they are in compliance, the criminal prohibition will come into effect on June

Special thanks to co-authors Julia Webster and Jing Xu, and contributor Oscar Ramirez (articling student in our Toronto office).

This article provides an overview of the global rise in human and labor rights legislation linked to trade measures and how this impacts the consumer goods and retail industry.

We examine:

  • Canada’s efforts to

We are pleased to share a recent Canadian HR Reporter article, “What do employers in Quebec need to know about new OHS rules?,” with insight from Ajanthana Anandarajah.

The article discusses new rules and policies employers need to follow now that remote workers are legally recognized in Quebec. Updates include remote work recognition, new hazard

Special thanks to co-authors, Krissy Katzenstein, Brad Newman, Robin J. Samuel, and Julia Wilson.

Amid recent hype around ChatGPT and generative artificial intelligence (AI), many are eager to harness the technology’s increasingly sophisticated potential.

However, findings from Baker McKenzie’s 2022 North America AI survey indicate that business leaders may currently underappreciate AI-related

On March 20, 2023, Bill 79, Working for Workers Act, 2023, carried on a first reading in the Ontario legislature. If passed, Bill 79 will significantly amend several employment-related statutes and expand on legislative changes introduced in the Working for Workers Acts, 2021 and 2022.

Summary of Key Changes

The most important potential changes include:

  • Mass Termination: Employees who work remotely from home will be included in the count for mass termination provisions under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA“). The result is that remote employees will receive the same eight-week minimum notice of termination or pay-in-lieu as their in-office colleagues. Currently, the meaning of “establishment” under the mass termination provisions only encompasses the physical location at which an employer carries on business, and does not include an employee’s private residence. If Bill 79 is passed as currently drafted, the proposed amendments to the mass termination provisions will come into force on the later of July 1, 2023, or the date on which Bill 79 receives Royal Assent.
  • Health and Safety: The maximum fine that may be imposed on a corporation convicted of an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act will increase from $1.5 million to $2 million.
  • Reservist Leave: The Employment Standards Act, 2000 will be amended to entitle an employee who is in treatment, recovery or rehabilitation in respect of a physical or mental health illness, injury or medical emergency that results from participation in certain operations or activities to reservist leave. Further, reservists who are deployed to emergency operations inside Canada will be entitled to take this leave immediately regardless of the length of their employment, and the length of employment required to take this leave for all other reasons will be reduced from three months to two months.
  • Personal Information in Post-Secondary Education: Section 15 of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act will be amended to permit the collection, disclosure and use of personal information for purposes related to certain employment programs and services. This includes disclosing personal information to persons or entities that administer, evaluate or deliver employment programs or services funded by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for the purpose of administering and delivering those programs or services.
  • Temporary Foreign Workers: The Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 will be amended to increase penalties employers and people who are convicted of taking possession of or retaining a foreign national’s passport or work permit. For individuals, the penalty will increase to a fine of not more than $500,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of not more than 12 months. For corporations, the penalty will increase to a fine of not more than $1,000,000.
  • Job Information Transparency: Employers will be required to provide employees starting a new job with information about their job, such as pay, work location and hours of work, and the date by which that information needs to be provided. These draft regulations have not been published yet, but we will continue to monitor this significant amendment closely.

Continue Reading Bill 79, Working for Workers Act, 2023 Carries on First Reading, with Potential for Major Changes Ahead