In 2016, the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that dependent contractors are entitled to reasonable notice of termination. In a recent decision, Cormier v 1772887 Ontario Limited cob as St. Joseph Communications, (“Cormier“) the Ontario Superior Court of Justice extended this principle – commenting that service as an independent contractor should be considered in calculating the reasonable notice period in certain circumstances.
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Faith-based, as in “good faith”, that is.

Not that long ago the Supreme Court installed “good faith” as core to the fabric of contractual relations in Canada whether commercial or employment, whether ostensibly arms-length as “independent contractor” or employment per se. Implying a duty to act fairly in contract is not foreign to other jurisdictions— it is foundational to EU legal principals and long-since present in the Restatements of US law.

Here, not so much. In the 60s Ontario Justice Goodman enthused about incorporation of “good faith” as a distinct implied term of contract; alas conservative sentiment rendered that distillation jurisprudential ‘moonshine’. Some 50 years on Bhasin v. Hrynew (2014) refined that elixir into single malt: the SCC aspirationally confirmed that we all gotta have ‘faith’.

While it remains difficult to be ‘sort-of pregnant’, good faith became operational but not as an independent “cause of action”. But as an influencer of import in contractual relations, it has certainly come of age: Mohamed v. Information Systems Architects Inc., 2018 ONCA 428.
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Employers commonly receive calls from Employment Insurance (EI) Officers seeking clarification of the information provided by the employer in a Record of Employment (ROE). The clarification or confirmation typically relates to the employee’s first / last day worked, insurable hours, insurable earnings and / or the reason for issuing the ROE (Block 16).

Employers who are asked to speak to their reason for issuing the ROE should pause and consider what, if any, information to share with the EI Officer. Employers should also carefully consider what steps to take upon receipt of correspondence from the EI Officer or the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (Commission).
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The Ontario Superior Court recently pronounced that alleged acts of workplace sexual harassment, including alleged incidents occurring in the workplace, are not connected to employment but are separate matters: Watson v. The Governing Council of the Salvation Army of Canada. Further, the Court held that the employer’s release did not bar claims based on these allegations.
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The Alberta legislature has passed comprehensive amendments to the province’s labour and employment legislation. These changes were enacted through:

  • Bill 17: the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act; and
  • Bill 30: An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans.

This is the first of three articles summarizing the key amendments. This article outlines changes to employment standards under the Employment Standards Code (“ESC”).
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The Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) recently ruled that a unilateral contract renewal clause was valid, despite its potential to bind one party perpetually: Uniprix inc. v. Gestion Gosselin et Bérubé inc. The clause afforded sole discretion to the respondents to renew or terminate their contract with Uniprix. The wording of the clause, the nature of the contract and the relationship between the parties were determinative in the majority’s ruling, which upheld the decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Superior Court of Quebec. The SCC’s decision and our key takeaways are outlined below.
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On July 15, 2016, we wrote about the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Wilson v. Atomic Energy, 2016 SCC 29 (“Wilson”). In that case, the SCC held that most federally-regulated, non-union employees with 12 or more consecutive months of service can only be dismissed for “just cause”. See our earlier blog post here.

Following the Wilson decision, many federal employers were left wondering whether they still have the right to downsize or impose layoffs in response to a decline in their business. Such employers will be happy to learn that “downsizing” imposed for legitimate business reasons is still possible (subject to certain restrictions). Under s. 242(3.1)(a) of the Canada Labour Code, RSC, 1985, c L-2 (the “Code“), an adjudicator will not consider the complaint of an employee who has been laid off due to a “lack of work” or “discontinuance of a function”.
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On July 14, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that most federally-regulated, non-union employees can only be dismissed for “just cause” after 12 consecutive months of service (Wilson v. Atomic Energy, 2016 SCC 29). As a result of this decision, it is now clear that employees who are regulated under Part III of the Canada Labour Code cannot, following their first year of employment, simply be provided with termination notice or pay in lieu, absent a compelling reason for terminating the employment relationship.
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