Payroll Month in Review – June 2017

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A roundup of new legislation, regulations, government announcements, court cases and arbitration rulings

Law of the Month: Alberta Overhauls Its Employment Standards Laws 

  • The CN Tower opened to the public in Toronto;
  • The ink jet printer was invented;
  • A new comedy show called Second City Television made its debut;
  • Montreal hosted the Summer Olympics; and
  • A radical separatist named René Lévesque won the Québec provincial election.

Do you remember 1976? Were you even alive back then? 1976 was also the year that Alberta last adopted major employment legislation. But now, after nearly 3 decades of inactivity, the province has moved to modernize its employment laws. Here’s an overview of so-called Bill 17, aka, The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act and its likely impact both inside and outside Alberta.

THE BILL

Political Context: Bill 17 is, to be sure, a politically-inspired measure authored by the NDP to shore up the party’s labour and social activist base ahead of provincial elections. The bill is being sold as righting the workplace wrongs inflicted by decades of conservative rule.  Without judging the veracity of the political spin, it is fair to say that Alberta’s employment laws have been long overdue for an update.

Scope: Running 249 pages, Bill 17 proposes sweeping changes to not 1 but 2 sets of laws: the Employment Standards Code (ESC) and Labour Relations Code. This summary addresses the former (See the ALBERTA section of the Month In Reviewfor an overview of the labour law changes.)

What It Says:  Bill 17 covers just about all aspects of the ESC.

NEW RIGHTS TO LEAVE

The most sweeping changes are the ones expanding employee unpaid leave rights.

  1. General Eligibility

Under current rules, employees must have 52 consecutive weeks of employment to qualify for maternity, parental and compassionate care leave; Bill 17 would reduce that to 90 days.

  1. Maternity & Parental Leave

Key proposed changes include:

  • Extending unpaid maternity leave from 15 to 16 weeks (to account for the one-week waiting period for federal EI benefits);
  • Extending unpaid parental leave from 37 to 52 weeks (to align with proposed EI changes);
  • Allowing termination during the notice/entitlement period only if the business is closed or suspended;
  • Allowing employees whose pregnancy ends within 16 weeks of her due date to remain eligible for maternity leave—leave would end either 16 weeks after it begins or 6 weeks after the pregnancy terminates; and
  • Requiring non-birth parents and adoptive parents to complete parental leave within 53 weeks of birth or adoption (as opposed to 52 under current rules).
  1. Compassionate Care Leave

The bill would also significantly expand current compassionate care leave rights by:

  • Extending leave from 8 to 27 weeks (to align with proposed EI changes);
  • Making non-primary caregivers eligible for leave;
  • Eliminating the current 2-installment limit and letting employees take leave in multiple weekly installments; and
  • Reducing required notice to return to work from 2 weeks to 48 hours (although employees would still have to provide at least 2 weeks’ notice of taking leave).
  1. New Leaves

In addition to beefing up current leave rights, Bill 17 would give employees 7 new forms of unpaid leave:

Proposed Unpaid Leave

Type of Leave Duration Requirements
Bereavement Up to 3 days per calendar year Bereavement must involve immediate family member
Citizenship Ceremony Half day For employees attending ceremony to receive their citizenship certificate
Critical illness of a child Up to 36 weeks per calendar year* For providing care or support to critically ill or injured child
Death or disappearance of a child *Up to 52 weeks per calendar year if employee disappears as a result of a crime*

*Up to 104 weeks per year if child dies as a result of a crime*

Domestic violence Up to 10 days per calendar year To seek medical attention, get services from a victim services organization, get psychological or professional counselling, relocate temporarily or permanently, seek legal or law enforcement help and any other purpose provided for in regulations
Long-term illness & injury Up to 16 weeks per calendar year* Employee must provide medical certificate and reasonable notice
Personal & family responsibility Up to 5 days per calendar year For personal sickness or short-term care of an immediate family member, which includes dealing with personal emergencies and caregiving responsibilities related to a child’s education

 * Note: Brings Alberta into line with federal EI changes

10 OTHER CHANGES

Although the leave provisions are the headliner, Bill 17 proposes 10 other ESC changes that you need to know about:

  1. Minimum Wage

Minimum wage-wise, Bill 17 is more notable for what it does not include, namely, indexation or raising the minimum wage to $15.  All it does is repeal an archaic and ignored provision (Sec. 67) allowing employers to apply for a permit to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage.

  1. Overtime

Proposed overtime changes are also modest and limited to banking rules:

  • Overtime agreements would allow for time to be banked for 6 months rather than 3 months; and
  • Banking of time off for overtime would be calculated at 1.5 hours for each hour of overtime banked rather than on a 1:1 basis.
  1. Rest Periods

Employees would get at least a 30-minute break for every 5 hours of consecutive work. Breaks may be paid or unpaid. Employers and employees could also agree to break them into 2 15-minute segments.

  1. Compressed Work Weeks

Employers and employees may agree to average work hours over a period of 1 to 12 for purposes of determining overtime pay or time off with pay. So-called “averaging agreements” must:

  • Provide for average hours at or below 12 hours per day and 44 hours per week;
  • Be supported by majority of affected employees or contained within the collective agreement; and
  • Be renewed every 2 years.
  1. Holiday Pay

Bill 17 would:

  • Make all employees eligible for general holiday pay and eliminate the 30-days worked requirement;
  • Get rid of the regular and non-regular day worked distinction; and
  • Set general holiday pay as 5% of wages from the previous 4 weeks worked.
  • Breaks of employment of less than 90 days will be deemed to be a period of continuous employment for the purpose of calculating minimum vacation entitlements. Employees will also be able to take vacation in half day periods.
  1. Vacation Pay
  • Individuals continuously employed less than 5 years would be entitled to vacation pay of 4% or 2 weeks of total wages;
  • Those employed more than 5 years would get 6% or 2 weeks total wages;
  • Employment breaks of less than 90 days would be deemed continuous employment for purposes of calculating vacation pay; and
  • Employees may take vacations in half-day segments.
  1. Termination Notice

Subtle but important changes to termination notice rules include:

  • Changing the probationary period from 3 months to 90 days;
  • Counting employment breaks of less than 90 days as continuous employment for purposes of calculating termination notice required;
  • Basing calculation of termination pay on average wages in previous 13 weeks (instead of 3 calendar months) worked before termination.
  1. Group Terminations

Bill 17 imposes more onerous rules for group terminations, including the requirement that employers provide between 8-16 weeks’ written notice of group termination depending on the number of employees terminated at a single location. Recall notices would also have to be in writing. Indefinite temporary layoffs would also be eliminated by requiring that layoffs be limited to 60 days within a 120-day period.

  1. Youth Employment

There would be tough new restrictions on employing young workers, including a total ban on hiring youth under age 13 (except for artistic endeavours with a permit), a

new list of “light work” jobs that youth under age 16 are allowed to perform and other health and safety restrictions to be created later.

  1. Administration & Enforcement

Under Bill 17, employers could be hit with administrative monetary penalties of up to $10,000 for an ESC violation similar to current rules for OHS violations. Other significant enforcement and administrative changes would:

  • Extend the deadline to start an ESC prosecution from 1 to 2 years;
  • Give Employment Standards Officers authority to order employers to conduct ESC self-audits; and
  • Streamline permit rules and procedures.

WHAT IT MEANS

Bill 17 is sweeping in scope; but the one thing it’s not is innovative. The bill is essentially a “greatest hits” collection of changes made in other parts of Canada. Its purpose is not to establish a brave new world of employment law but to make up for nearly 3 decades of legislative neglect. That’s a huge deal if you happen to do business in Alberta and nowhere else. But for employers subject to regulation in not only Alberta but other jurisdictions, Bill 17 is likely to pose only relatively minor challenges.

FEDERAL

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Privacy
May 8: A new law took effect banning employers from making job applicants undergo or submit the results of previous genetic testing for purposes of pre-employment screening. The idea is to keep test results private and ensure that people are free to undergo genetic testing without fear that positive test results may brand them as a health risk in the eyes of prospective employers.

Human Rights
May: The Human Rights Commission outlined a new enforcement approach in its 2017-2018 Departmental Plan:

  • Simplify process to make it easier for employees to bring discrimination claims
  • Focus on systemic discrimination rather than isolated violations
  • Use “horizontal audits” to monitor Employment Equity Act

TFW
May: Proposed changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program would require employers to do more to recruit Canadians, particularly the disabled, youth, newcomers, women, Indigenous people and other represented groups, before hiring immigrants.

Summer Jobs
May 25: Belying the negative predictions of winter, Canada Summer Jobs program applications actually exceeded government targets with nearly 42,000 businesses applying. Exactly how many jobs that translates into remains to be seen.

Payroll
May: The government issued instructions on electronic Record of Employment filing. The 2 options:

Pensions
May 31: Public comments closed on proposed changes to defined benefits plan regulations:

  • Change DB letter of credit limit from 15% of plan assets to 15% of liabilities
  • Allow non-residents to unlock funds from pooled registered plans
  • Allow survivor to surrender death benefit from pooled plans to a dependent.

Tax Forms
May: New CRA tax forms and publications issued this month:

 ALBERTA

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Labour Laws
May 25: Highlights of key labour changes in Bill 17 (see LAW OF THE MONTH above for a summary of employment standards changes):

  • Employer must prove discipline is not unfair labour practice (rather than making employee prove it is)
  • Expand definition of “employee” who can unionize to include dependent contractors who work for just one employer
  • Eliminate restrictions on secondary picketing
  • New procedures for certifying new unions and decertifying old ones
  • Arbitration of first contracts between employers and new unions
  • Broad new powers for Labour Relations Board to resolve disputes.

Whistleblowers
May 2: Flying under the Bill 17 radar is a separate bill called the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Amendment Act granting broad new protections to whistleblowers in the public sector, including not only comprehensive insulation against retaliation but the potential right to reinstatement, damages and other “remediation” for any reprisals they suffer.

TFW
May 12: “Shame on you both.” So chided the judge in sentencing a couple for exploiting 7 temporary foreign workers at a Red Deer Econo Lodge. The wife got a 2-year conditional sentence for using false information to bring in immigrant workers; her husband was fined $5K for not keeping proper employment records.

Apprentices
May 9: A new 16-week pre-apprenticeship program called Trade Winds to Success will provide classroom and hands-on instruction to indigenous students seeking careers as carpenters, electricians, ironworkers, millwrights, plumbers, welders, insulators and steam/pipefitters.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Minimum Wage
Sept. 15: The BC general minimum wage is going up 50¢ to $11.35 on that date. An identical increase will send the minimum wage for liquor servers to $10.10 per hour.

Workplace Safety
May 1: New OHS requirements took effect:

 

 

OHS REGULATION REQUIREMENTS/REVISIONS
Sec. 1.1 Definition of Combustible & Flammable Liquids Same flashpoint temperature criteria but references to outdated WHMIS 1988 terms removed
Sec. 4.56 Work Platform Guardrails Conditional exemption of movable work platforms and scaffolds from guardrail height criteria
Secs. 4.80-4.82, 28.9 Env. Tobacco Smoke & E-cigarette Vapour i. Ban on workplace smoking expanded to include use of e-cigarettes and exposure to e-cigarette vapour.

ii. No-smoking buffer zone increased from 3 to 6 metres from a doorway, window or air intake to an indoor workplace

iii. Exemptions for smoking tobacco in designated smoking rooms in community care facilities, assisted living residences, private or extended care hospitals, and designated hotel/motel guest rooms extended to include use of e-cigarettes

Sec. 5.71 Combustible or Flammable Air Contaminants Revised to ensure compliance with BC Electrical Code for related electrical equipment contacting the air stream of a ventilation system
Sec. 6.4 Asbestos Inventory i. Both owner and employer are responsible for ensuring inventories are prepared and maintained for asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in workplace—although only one inventory for workplace is needed

ii. Lists specific info inventory must include and responsibilities for maintaining inventory and making it accessible

New Sec. 12.83 Chassis Dynamometers i. New safety requirements for testing motor vehicles on chassis dynamometers

ii. Only a qualified worker may: (i) test a motor vehicle on a chassis dynamometer, and (ii) operate a motor vehicle, chassis dynamometer or other test equipment for purpose of testing a motor vehicle on a chassis dynamometer.

iii. Wheels and tires must be inspected by a qualified worker before a motor vehicle is tested on a chassis dynamometer

Part 14 Cranes & Hoists i. Scaffolds used to support powered hoists or cranes must be constructed, installed and used in accordance with professional engineer’s instructions

ii. Exempts light duty portable material hoists from application of CSA Standard Z256

iii. Clarifies requirements regarding rated capacity of cranes and hoists

Secs. 20.2 & 20.21 Notice of Project Stricter NOP requirements for construction projects
Sec. 22.12 Underground Supervisors Underground supervisors no longer required to hold an “underground excavation supervisor certificate” acceptable to the Board since Ministry of Mines no longer issues this type of certificate
Sec. 26.13.4 Saw Chain Shot i. Mobile forestry equipment must have cab windows made of polycarbonate totalling 32 mm or more, or material that meets or exceeds ANSI/UL bullet-proofing requirements

ii. Saw chain shot–resistant windows not required if mobile equipment has protective guards or other devices that prevent shot from directly striking the cab windows.

 

CASES

Vague Severance Discussions ≠ Oral Agreement to Provide Retirement Package
A mining supervisor claimed HR promised him a “retirement package” of one month’s pay for each year of service up to 18 months. The company admitted to discussing “severance” but denied agreeing to a specific package. The trial court said there was an oral agreement and awarded the supervisor $176K. But the Court of Appeal said no dice. The supervisor sincerely believed the retirement package was a done deal. But subjective belief isn’t enough. There must be objective evidence to prove an oral agreement, said the Court. And since no such evidence existed, the court was wrong to find that the company had an oral agreement to provide the retirement package  [Aubrey v. Teck Highland Valley Copper Partnership, 2017 BCCA 144 (CanLII), Apr. 4, 2017].

MANITOBA

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Minimum Wage
May 15: A new bill calls for automatic minimum wage adjustments indexed to the Consumer Price Index on Oct. 1 of each year. Several provinces follow the same scheme but the Manitoba bill contains a unique loophole: The government would have the right to freeze the minimum wage in case of recession or economic downturn.

Labour
May: The new government’s financial austerity drive has spawned a trio of controversial bills:

  • Bill 21 requiring ministries to withhold 20% of salaries unless spending reduction targets are met (which would rise to 40% the next year if the ministry still fails to show improvement)
  • Bill 28 freezing wages of teachers, doctors, nurses and other public-sector workers for 2 years
  • Bill 29 reducing health-sector bargaining units in Winnipeg from 183 to 7.

Workplace Safety
May 5: The government launched its legislatively required 5-year review of the Workplace Safety & Health Act.  After gathering public feedback on changes and improvements, the Council will issue recommendations by Dec. 31.

CASES

$13K Fine for Not Using Guardrail to Prevent Falls thru Floor Opening
University workers removed floor access panels so they could lower a 2,200-lb (1,000-kg) spool 2 floors to the basement. While the crew had stepped away to retrieve the spool, a co-worker accidentally stepped into the opening and fell 4.4 metres. The victim survived but suffered serious injuries. The employer pleaded guilty to failing to use a guardrail system to prevent falls through the floor opening and was fined $13,000 [University of Manitoba, Govt. News Release, May 9, 2017].

 NEW BRUNSWICK

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Human Rights
May 5: Changes to the Human Rights Act officially took effect:

  • “Family status” and “gender identity or expression” added as protected grounds
  • Ban on discrimination applies to any person in workplace as opposed to just employers and their agents
  • Revised definition of “mental disability”
  • Human Rights Commission’s given authority to investigate, settle and dismiss complaints.

Employment Equity
May 14: The government claims it’s making progress on the gender equality front. Of the 463 appointments made between Oct. 2014 and Feb. 2017, 266 (57%) were female, including 20 of 33 (61 %) of new chairs appointed.

Collective Bargaining
May 24: Terms of the province’s newly signed 5-year collective agreement with the New Brunswick Teachers’ Federation covering nearly 8,000 teachers and principals:

  • Annual wage increases of 1%
  • Addition of 250 school-based teachers over next 2 years
  • Research project to increase hours of instruction for students in kindergarten thru Grade 2.

 NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Jobs
May 9: A newly created Cabinet Committee on Jobs consisting of the Premier and the government’s top economic ministers will work with growth industries to stimulate economic growth and job creation in the private sector.

Wages
May 15: The government raised the official Job Trainers wage from $12.25 to $14.80 per hour; that will be followed by an additional increase to $15.55 per hour on July 1, 2017. Job Trainers provide one-on-one support to individuals with intellectual disabilities via the Supported Employment Program.

Workplace Safety
Apr. 27: In 2016, the lost-time injury/illness rate fell to an all-time low of 1.5 per 100 workers. The bad news is that the rate has dropped only 0.1% over the past 5 years. On the other hand, back in 1989 the rate was 5.2(!) per 100 workers. Work fatalities fell nearly 50% from 24 to 13 year-over-year.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Jobs
May 8: The GNWT is increasing funding for job creation under the Support for Entrepeneurs and Economic Development Program, including a new Strategic Investments stream pilot providing up to $75,000 for business activities that support communities and local employment.

CASES

Supervisor, Contractor Charged in 19-Year-Old’s Rollover Death
A 19-year-old worker from Australia was crushed to death after the heavy machine he was operating on an access road to the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility near Inuvik rolled over. It was the only work fatality in the Territories in 2016. The WSCC has charged the contractor and supervisor with 9 OHS violations including failure to provide proper safety training and supervision [Allen Services & Contracting Ltd., and supervisor Brian McCarthy, Govt. News Release, May 23, 2017].

NOVA SCOTIA

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Workplace Safety
June 12: New OHS laws took effect clarifying which work injuries and illnesses must be reported and giving government safety inspectors broad new powers to crack down on repeat offenders including authority to:

  • Issue stop-work orders at all sites of a repeat offender
  • Seek a court order barring repeat offenders from working in an industry
  • Require repeat offenders to provide notification of their future work locations and activities.

Workers’ Compensation
May 19: Proposed amendments would establish the presumption that an emergency response worker diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder has a work-related condition. Under previous rules, emergency workers had to prove that PTSD was the result of a traumatic and discrete workplace incident.

CASES

Company Must Pay Salesman Commissions on Post-Retirement Sales
A retired salesman sued his company for nearly $20,000 in commissions on sales booked before he retired even though they didn’t close until after he retired. The question of whether companies must pay bonuses to employees after they leave keeps coming up.  The twist: This case took place in small claims court with neither side represented by a lawyer. And the ruling in favor of the salesman, while brief and short on legal analysis, was more than adequate for a small claims court, the court said in denying the appeal  [Eye Catch Signs Ltd. v. Dobbin, 2017 NSSC 110 (CanLII), Apr. 24, 2017].

NUNAVUT

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Jobs
May 4: $230 million in government money ($172.5 million from the feds and $57.7 million from GN) will be used to find water, wastewater, landfill and other infrastructure projects in 19 towns across Nunavut over the next 2 years.

 ONTARIO

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Minimum Wage
Oct. 1: The following minimum wage hikes will take effect:

Minimum Wage Current Hourly Rate Rate as of Oct. 1, 2017
General $11.40 $11.60
Student $10.70 $10.90
Liquor Servers $9.90 $10.10
Hunting & Fishing Guides $56.95 for less than 5 consecutive hours in a day

 

$113.95 for 5 or more hours in a day (whether or not hours are consecutive)

$58 for less than 5 consecutive hours in a day

 

$116 for 5 or more hours in a day (whether or not hours are consecutive)

Homeworkers $12.55 $12.80


Workplaces Review
May 23: Although the practice has caught on in Alberta and other provinces, comprehensive review of employment and labour laws started in Ontario in 2015. And now after extensive public consultations and one interim report, the advisory committee has issued a 419-page final report called the Changing Workplaces Review. Among the 173 recommendations: Give all workers a week of unpaid emergency leave per year and increase paid vacation time to 3 weeks for employees with over 5 years’ service. But paid sick leave didn’t make the final cut.

Pensions
Apr. 27: Key changes in newly tabled Bill 127 are proposals would affect DB plan funding, including:

  • Mandatory solvency funding for plans whose funded status dips below 85%
  • Cutting going concern amortization period from 15 to 10 years
  • Required funding of a so called Provision for Adverse Deviation (PfAD) reserve within the plan
  • New restrictions on contribution holidays.

Workplace Safety
Oct. 1: That’s the new deadline to provide fall protection training to workers working at heights on a “construction project.” Be aware that “construction projects” encompass not just traditional construction sites but any location where construction work is carried out including a factory, warehouse, mill, hydroelectric plant, etc.

Workers’ Compensation
July 7: That’s the deadline to comment on the WSIB’s proposed coverage rules for work-related chronic mental stress. The operable word is “chronic,” which means that workers will be covered not just for traumatic stress but “mental stress caused by a substantial work-related stressor, including bullying or harassment.” Decisions or actions affecting the worker’s job duties, work conditions and/or discipline would not be deemed due to work-related chronic stress, according to the WSIB.

CASES

Nothing to Prevent Senior Exec From Taking Company’s Proprietary Info
A departing CEO found to have made copies of company emails and other proprietary business information was willing to return the data but not delete his own copies. The company sued but to no avail. Whether the CEO’s actions were right or wrong, the court didn’t say—although it hinted that he may have had legitimate reasons. What did matter to the court was the CEO had no written employment contract and there was no other agreement expressly banning him from copying the information or requiring him to return it to the company after his employment ended [ORBCOMM INC. v Randy Taylor Professional Corporation, 2017 ONSC 2308 (CanLII), Apr. 12, 2017].

OK to Suspend Steel Workers for Horsing Around at Work
Is a one-day suspension too severe a penalty for engaging in a “friendly bout of wrestling” at work? The arbitrator didn’t think so, especially considering the concrete floors and dangerous machinery in which the bout occurred. Although “quantifying discipline is not a science,” the one-day suspension handed down to each man was “within a reasonable range” for this offence. Anything more than that would not have been reasonable. And while the company’s failure to investigate the incident was a mistake, it didn’t nullify the penalty, the arbitrator added [Unimin Canada Ltd. v United Steelworkers, Local 5383, 2017 CanLII 31794 (ON LA), May 24, 2017].

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Trucking
May 8: The government has relaxed driver licensing rules in response to the trucking industry labour shortage to allow 18-year-olds in the last stages of their Graduated Driver’s license to get a Class 3 driver’s license to operate a heavy truck. Applicants will still have to write an air brake exam, pass a medical exam and complete a road test to qualify for a Class 3 license.

QUÉBEC

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Human Rights
May 5: Under QPP rules, individuals may retire at age 60 but must pay a penalty if they retire before age 65. Sec. 120.2 of the Act imposes the same penalty on individuals who receive a disability pension between ages 60 and 65. But now the Human Rights Commission has issued a notice saying that Sec. 120.2 is disability discrimination and should be repealed.

Pay Equity
May 15: CNESST unveiled a new Action Plan strategy for promoting pay equity for non-unionized and immigrant workers.

Health Services Fund
May 19: The 2018 CNESST average contribution rate is going up 2¢ to $1.79 per $100 payroll to cover medical treatment cost increases. Meanwhile, gradual decreases in Health Services Fund contributions for employers whose total payroll is $1 million or less have begun and will continue over the next 5 years. Employers with payroll between $1 million and $5 million will also get a gradual reduction in their contribution rate:

Employer Sectors Current 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 and thereafter
Primary & Manufacturing 1.60% 1.55% 1.50% 1.50% 1.50% 1.45%
Service & Construction 2.70% 2.50% 2.30% 2.15% 2.05% 2.00%


Public Pensions
May 12: Amendments to the Pension Plan of Management Personnel under Bill 126 have been officially adopted. Changes affecting employers:

  • Gradual increase in maximum years of service that can be used to calculate retirement pension from 38 to 40 from Jan. 2017 to Dec. 31, 2018
  • Employers who pay employer contributions must pay annual compensation amount from 2018 to 2022
  • Special transitional rules apply to progressive separation agreements in effect before Feb. 8, 2017.

Tax Forms
May: New MRQ forms and publications issued this month:

  • TP‑1079.DI‑V, Mandatory or Preventive Disclosure of Tax Planning
  • FP-2500.E-V, Request to Amend GST/HST and QST Returns Filed Online

CASES

No Firing Otherwise Spotless Veteran Employee for Stealing Bag of Potato Chips
Firing a worker with 35 years of service and a spotless disciplinary record because he stole a couple of bags of potato chips may seem a bit extreme. At least it did to the arbitrator who knocked the penalty down to a 6-month suspension. But the court said the arbitrator was unreasonable and that termination was justified—not because the offence was so awful but because of the worker’s lousy attitude. He showed no remorse and continued to deny any wrongdoing even though he was caught red-handed. But the appeals court had the final word, finding the court out of line in second-guessing the arbitrator [Yum Yum Chicken Workers’ Union (CSN) c. Chips Yum Yum enr. (Krispy Kernels Foods Inc. Division), 2017 QCCA 810 (CanLII), May 11, 2017].

SASKATCHEWAN

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Pensions
June 30: That’s the deadline to comment on a Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority proposal to increase registration and filing fees for pension plans:

Fee Current Amount Proposed Increase
Per active member $7 $10-$12
Per former member $3.50 $5-$7
Minimum fee for filing annual info return (AIR) or application $150 $250-$350
Maximum fee for filing AIR or application $15,000 $25,000-$35,000
New flat fee for filing a plan amendment or actuarial valuation report NA $200-$500


Domestic Violence
May 11: According to a new government report, of the 48 domestic violence-related homicides and 9 suicides that occurred in Saskatchewan between 2005 and 2014:

  • The majority of victims were female
  • The majority of perpetrators were male
  • Over 1/3 of the victims were under age 21
  • Nearly 2/3 of victims were attacked in their own home.

Workers’ Compensation
June 30: That’s the deadline to comment on proposed changes designed to modernize the Workers’ Compensation Board structure and speed up the processing and appeal of benefits decisions.

 YUKON TERRITORY

LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

Employment Standards
June 21: That’s when the brand new National Aboriginal Day will first be recognized as a statutory holiday in Yukon. The legislation, Bill 2, passed on May 8, just 6 weeks ahead of the effective date.