Workplace Safety & Insurance

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.
Continue Reading Update on COVID-19: Impact on the Workplace in Ontario

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

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.


Continue Reading Decision Delivers Dependent Contractor Status to Foodora Workers

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.
Continue Reading Another Orange Crush? What to Expect from an NDP Government

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.
Continue Reading Alberta Strengthens Workplace Safety Legislation

Introduction

An employee’s use of intoxicants, like marijuana, can adversely affect the work environment by:

  • compromising the ability of employees to perform their job duties;
  • threatening the health and safety of the employee and his or her co-workers; and
  • undermining the employer’s reputation.

It is no surprise, then, that employees who are found to be under the influence at work often face discipline.

Yet, the rise of marijuana as a treatment for disabling medical conditions (such as epilepsy, chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder) has caused this once relatively “clear” issue to become more complex.
Continue Reading Going Green: Medical Marijuana and the Ontario Human Rights Code

Most employers pay premiums under Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (the “WSIA”), providing workers who suffer injury or death in the course of employment with “no fault” insurance benefits.  When workplace injuries occur that are covered by WSIA benefits, workers must claim through the WSIA’s insurance plan, and are “barred” from pursuing a civil claim against their employer.

But when are mental stress claims covered?  And when must an employee claim for mental stress under the WSIA instead of filing a civil claim?
Continue Reading Mental Stress and the WSIA: Constitutionality and the “Statutory Bar”