What Is Happening North of the Border

McCarthy Tetrault is pleased to announce the publication of Northern Workplaces. This bulletin addresses labor and employment issues of interest to American-based clients, attorneys, in-house counsel and human resource practitioners who deal with employment matters in Canada.

Similar … But Different

Canadian and American workplaces are similar in so many ways. However, Canada has unique legal considerations that preclude the consistent and uniform application of an employer’s policies across both Canada and the United States.

Key labor and employment issues vary from region to region, even within Canada. Moreover, because employment matters are regulated on a provincial level, except for a few employers subject to national laws, it is not possible for an American employer to easily establish common policies in all work locations across Canada. The summer of 2012 presented an interesting employment picture for employers.

Job Creation

Employment rose by 34,000 jobs in Canada during August 2012, mostly in the area of part-time workers. The unemployment rate remains steady at 7.3% and below the current

unemployment rate in the United States. The western region of Canada, with its robust energy sector, registered the lowest employment rate in the country.

Wage Settlements


Base rate wage adjustments under major collective agreement bargaining settlements currently average around 2.1% over the duration of the collective agreement.

While the public sector is heavily unionized in Canada, the private sector is considerably less so. In some areas, such as the province of Alberta, the union density rate in the private sector corresponds to approximately 10% of the working population.

On the Horizon

Our Labor and Employment attorneys report that many clients remain cautious about hiring and increasing wages. However, we have not observed any client requests regarding strategies for large-scale plant closures or downsizings and layoffs. Furthermore, in western Canada, our immigration attorneys are busy assisting clients in obtaining visas for foreign workers required for ambitious energy projects.

Key issues being monitored relate to workplace privacy, drug testing and judicial enforcement of restrictive covenants.

Next Issue

In next month’s edition of Northern Workplaces, we identify five key differences between Canadian and American employment law.

Aboriginal Law: Commentary and Analysis

McCarthy Tétrault’s Labor and Employment Group has published a 75-page illustrated guide to navigating Canadian employment law. It was written especially for the busy USA-based attorney, in-house counsel and human resource practitioner. Please contact us to obtain a copy.


Labor & Employment Contact

Jacques Rousse
Practice Group Leader
Labor & Employment Group
Direct Line: 514-397-4103
Toll-free: 1-877-244-771
[email protected]