Keeping up with the changes to employment and labour law (and the changes to those changes)

Blaney McMurtry is an employment law firm that I have had speak at many of my broker education events over the years and they always provide great information, and are also a great resource if you ever need legal assistance on this type of issue. This seminar is available free of charge.  Click on the link below for details or to register.

2018 and 2019 were already shaping up to be a period of major change in employment and labour law in Ontario and across Canada. With the recent political developments in Ontario, employers now face the prospect of tracking whether the new laws they have been planning for are being maintained, modified, or even repealed.

This seminar will provide participants with an update on recent developments in the law, including practical strategies and tips on managing the impact and challenges of an uncertain regulatory environment. Topics include:

  • Legislative updates to laws relating to employment standards (e.g. Bill 148), pay transparency, occupational health and safety, and human rights
  • Cannabis in the workplace, including immigration-related risks for employers and their employees following the legalization of cannabis
  • Mental health and the workplace, including updates on the WSIB’s new Chronic Mental Stress policy

WHEN  Thursday November 8, 2018 8:00am – 10:00am

WHERE  Blaney McMurtry LLP  2 Queen Street East, Suite 1500, Toronto, Ontario M5C 3G5

REGISTRATION  Please register by Thursday November 1, 2018

The End Of Bill 148?

Over the past year or so, we shared the changes to the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) that Bill 148 was intended to implement.  Then we then passed along the legislative changes as they came into effect late last year and early this year (with more scheduled for 2018). Now we have to report that it looks like these changes may be rolled back.  We’ll follow the situation and report as we hear more.

There is a short article below as well, as a City TV web post with videos.

With the election of a new Government in Ontario, many employers wondered what would become of Bill 148.  As we have reported previously, Bill 148 was considered transformational legislation passed by the previous Government aimed at assisting precarious and vulnerable workers, which included such provisions as increasing the minimum wage, increased vacation, paid sick time and equal pay for part time employees performing substantially similar work to full time employees.  A few months after the election, and given recent statements to the media, we know that changes are coming.


Ford government prepares to drop the axe on labour reforms

If in Doubt, SHOUT !

I just shared this with many of the brokers I work with, but thought a great time to also share it with Mainstay clients and those that follow our blog.

As a client, you know, I have an “If in Doubt, Shout” policy.  I’d prefer dozens of calls to avoid a problem, rather than just one call after the fact, to try and fix what may be unfixable.

If you have an unusual hire, something out of the ordinary, a situation you have not run into before (or lately), please give us a call or drop a note and we’ll try and and get it resolved before  something happens.

One more reason to have employment agreements

This is an interesting case as it awarded a ONE year employee, 5 months of severance.  I hate to think what may have happened if their health conditions had turned into a disability claim during this time.  Having employment agreements can help reduce this risk and expense.

B.C. Court of Appeal upholds 5 months’ notice for 12 months of service

Dismissed employee’s age and experience deserved 5 months’ notice, but additional 3 months because of health concerns not warranted


Are your Independent contractors really employees?

This is an assessment tool, that I found on the web, that asks a series of questions similar to those that CRA use to determine if someone is an independent contractor versus an employee.  The questions themselves will likely help you to understand the variety of “tests” that the CRA or others may use.

Employee Versus Independent Contractor Status

Tax Assessment Tool

Dave Patriarche counters CLHIA’s stance

Well, it looks like I stepped into a(nother) battle in an attempt to ensure that the insurers provide correct information to the industry and specifically, to brokers and our clients.  Only by pushing to get the right information, can we ensure that clients get Fair Pricing of their insured benefit plans, that is our goal.

I hesitated to share this industry article, wondering if clients would be interested, but an associate  encouraged me to do so because…

I think it’s about reminding folks about the value of ‘truth, transparency and trust’ in a world where there is way too much fake news and fabricated ‘fact’ which is not really fact at all, but rather a convenient repositioning of statistics that are actually not at all relevant (the point you make about premium vs claims).  – Howard Kettner – Benefits Genius

Dave Patriarche, President of the group insurance firm Mainstay Insurance, has taken issue with the comments made by the Canada Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) critiquing a recent report on rising drug claim costs.

Patriarche argues that the critique of the report published by Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) lacks transparency. He says he wanted to set the facts straight in response to the comments by CLHIA President Stephen Frank.


Benefits being reviewed by CRA? Here’s what your employees need to know

If an employee receives a letter from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) saying they are reviewing their benefits, it could just be a routine check.

CRA says they send hundreds of thousands of these letters each year to ensure that people get the proper benefits they are entitled to.

Benefits being reviewed? Here’s what you need to know

How will I know my benefits are being reviewed?

You’ll get a letter and questionnaire from us. This letter will ask you to provide information so we can check to make sure the benefits or credits you’re receiving are correct.


Out of the Weeds: What You Need to Know About the Cannabis Act as an Employer

I know there has been an overwhelming amount of information on the impending legalization of Cannabis, but as I see interesting articles geared to employers I am going to pass them along in preparation for the October change in order to help you get prepared.

We held a seminar earlier this year and one of the handouts was a sample “Workplace Substance Management Policy” that may be helpful as you write your own policy.  If you are a Mainstay Client and have taken advantage of the FREE HR RESOURCES that we have made available, there is also an IMPAIRMENT & SUBSTANCE DEPENDENCY POLICY in the employee benefit booklet template.  if not

On June 20, 2018, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, which will, among other things, legalize the recreational use of cannabis. The Cannabis Act will come into force on October 17, 2018. Employers must be aware of the implications that the legalization of recreational cannabis may have on its workplace and be ready to act proactively.


Private drug plan claims, cost per claimant on the rise, finds new research

Each year we discuss cost trends of where our clients OVERALL premiums have been, and where we see them going.  In fact we share these in our April newsletter each year and include the averages on our website.  Our average unweighted increase over the past 15 years has been about 4.2% and that includes inflation, trends AND the aging of our groups.

We know that insurers use MUCH higher trend numbers for their calculations, but we work hard to ensure that your actual trends are better reflected the final rates you pay.

This article more accurately reflects what we are seeing and the lack of transparency mentioned, has never been a bigger challenge.

Between 2012 and 2016, Canada’s total private drug claims market increased by a 4.7 per cent compound annual growth rate, according to new research by Innovative Medicines Canada.



The Trends in HR report from Morneau is out.  A short summary from Pension and Benefits Monitor
is included below as well as the full report.  This is a Canadian employer survey so can be seen as a rough benchmarking tool.

Employers in Canada are expecting salaries to rise by an average of 2.6 per cent in 2019, says Morneau Shepell’s annual survey of ‘Trends in Human Resources.’ This is consistent with the actual 2.6 per cent average increase in 2018. The national forecast for salary budget increases for 2019 includes expected salary freezes, with 4.6 per cent of respondents expecting a zero salary budget for 2019. “Employers remain relatively confident about compensation expectations in the coming year,” says Anand Parsan, its vice-president, compensation consulting. “Those expecting healthier financial performance in the coming year outpace those expecting worse performance by six to one. In the face of this optimism and a labour market with no slack, however, employers remain guarded about salary increases, perhaps reflecting anxiety over the possibility of more trade protectionism, rising interest rates, and a Canadian economy operating close to its capacity.” The expected 2.6 per cent increase is consistent with the current rate of inflation. In July, the Bank of Canada noted that consumer price index inflation is expected to rise to about 2.5 per cent, before settling back to two per cent by the second half of 2019.