Workplace Safety & Insurance

To navigate the most-pressing issues facing multinational employers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the COVID-19 Global Employer Guide offers jurisdiction-specific guidance across 41 countries.

Download the Guide now to read the latest employment law guidance on issues including: legal requirements, practical and operational considerations, and emerging government regulation related to the outbreak.

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UPDATE: March 18, 2020

On March 18, 2020, the Canadian and US governments announced that the Canada-US border will be closing to all non-essential travel between Canada and the USA, such as travel for tourism or recreation. These border restrictions will take effect within “hours or days”. Both governments have indicated that today’s announcement is not intended to restrict commerce and trade. Cross-border entry will continue to be permitted to maintain essential services and supply chain processes. This includes workers who are traveling to provide essential goods and services, such as truck drivers and healthcare workers.
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Today, after an official announcement that Canada and the United States have restricted all non-essential travel between the countries, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Finance Bill Morneau also announced a variety of measures intended to economically assist Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below is a summary of the employment-related measures that have been confirmed so far. This is a rapidly evolving situation and we anticipate further changes and clarifications in the coming days. We are monitoring the situation closely, and will continue to communicate updates as soon as they become available.
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Ontario Government Declares State of Emergency

The Government of Ontario declared a province-wide state of emergency in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. This will impact employers and employees.

The government ordered the closure of all facilities with recreational programs, public libraries, private schools as defined in the Education Act, licensed child care centres, movie and performance theatres, concert venues and bars and restaurants. Bars and restaurants that offer take out or delivery services can remain open for that purpose.
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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.


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Claims alleging the misclassification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees are widespread. Properly classifying a worker’s status is critical because it determines substantive legal rights. In addition to independent contractors and employees, in Canada, there is a hybrid category — dependent contractors. To be classified as a dependent contractor, the contractor must be “economically dependent” on a particular client. Dependent contractor status may be found even where a worker conducts business through a corporation and hires employees to assist in the performance of the work.

In a significant decision, Canadian Union of Postal Workers v. Foodora Inc., the Ontario Labour Relations Board (the Board) held that couriers delivering food on behalf of Foodora Inc., an app based food delivery company, were dependent contractors under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (the Act) and thus have the right to unionize under the Act. This is one of the first decisions commenting on the status of workers in the gig economy.


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Recent polling suggests that the June 7th Ontario election is a hotly contested race with the NDP currently holding a lead in the polls and the PCs in second place. We are closely monitoring the election developments to keep you informed as to what a new government will mean for Ontario employers.

Below we outline the NDP’s proposed reforms to employment and labour laws. If pursued, the NDP’s proposed initiatives set out in their platform will significantly impact employers and go well beyond the changes recently introduced by the Ontario government under Bill 148.
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This is the final article in our three-part series on recent changes to Alberta’s labour and employment legislation. Here we outline changes to Alberta’s occupational health and safety (“OHS”) and workers’ compensation legislation resulting from Bill 30: An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans.
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To ring in the New Year, we highlight the ten most significant developments in Canadian labour and employment law in 2017:
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