Significant Changes to Federal Labour and Employment Laws Applicable in the Transportation Sector
Numerous amendments to the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) will come into force on September 1, 2019, ahead of the October 21st federal election.
The changes will affect approximately 18,000 federally-regulated employers, including rail, aviation, shipping, and cartage companies that move goods and people across borders.
Employers in the federal transportation and logistics sector should take stock of the upcoming changes, reviewed below. The changes to labour standards under Part III of the Code are unprecedented in scope and certainly employee-centric.
The Federal Government’s review of labour standards under the Code started several years ago. Beginning in May 2017, the Government consulted with various stakeholders and experts “to get their perspectives on what a robust and modern set of federal labour standards should be.” These consultations focused on improving access to leave and annual vacation, supporting work-life balance, protecting employees in non-standard employment, and updating termination-of-employment provisions.
Concurrently, in Parliament, the Government used its majority to legislate its labour reforms by way of successive omnibus bills, including Bill C-44, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, Bill C-63, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2, and not least, Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2, which numbered more than 800 pages in length. The Government also passed federal accessibility legislation, workplace harassment and violence legislation, and pay equity legislation during its first term.
Although these bills have all now received royal assent, the vast majority of the labour and employment changes have still yet to take effect. Rather than coming into force immediately, the changes have been coordinated to come into force on dates to be fixed by orders of the Governor in Council. September 1st has recently been fixed as the date on which a significant number of the Government’s amendments to the Code will take effect, as if arising from a single piece of legislation.
The Federal Government’s reform of labour standards is still ongoing and poised to continue if it wins re-election in October. Last February, the Government issued a press release stating that its work to modernize federal labour laws “isn’t done” and announcing the appointment of an independent expert panel to study issues flagged by earlier consultations, such as federal minimum wage, protections for non-standard workers, the “right to disconnect” outside of work hours, collective voice for non-unionized workers, and access and portability of benefits. The results of the expert panel’s work will be made public this summer and could form the basis of legislation during the Government’s second term.
In addition, the Government’s recently passed 2019 budget bill contemplates further labour and employment changes, such as the creation of new tax and employment insurance benefits and leaves of absence relating to job training, as well as capping employee stock option grants and introducing additional pay transparency measures for federal employers. The Government is also considering Code amendments which would require federally-regulated employers to provide free menstrual products in the workplace for use by their employees.
Meanwhile, the new Accessible Canada Act came into force on July 11th, and Bill C-65 and the proposed Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations, as well as the new Pay Equity Act, are expected to come into force in 2020.
Numerous other amendments to the Code concerning compliance and enforcement, individual and group terminations, temporary help agencies, equal pay for equal work, and more, have already been passed and are set to take effect sometime after September 1st.
Hours of Work
Rest Periods (effective September 1, 2019)
Employees will be entitled to:
- A 30-minute unpaid break during every 5 consecutive hours of work. When an employee is required to be available during the break, it must be paid;
- A rest period of at least 8 hours between shifts (however, there is no provision for split shifts or the ability for the employee and employer to agree otherwise) except in the case of an emergency; and
- Any unpaid breaks that are necessary for medical reasons or for an employee who is nursing to nurse or express breast milk. In the case of medical breaks, a medical certificate can be requested by the employer in writing.
The Governor in Council will be empowered to make regulations which, among other things, define the terms “shift” and “work period” for the purpose of these rest period provisions. The requirement to establish a Commission of Inquiry before making or amending regulations relating to certain hours of work provisions will be repealed.
Notice of Schedule (effective September 1, 2019)
Employers will be required to provide a minimum of 96 hours’ written notice before implementing a schedule. In instances where less than 96 hours are provided, an employee has the right to refuse any shift within 96 hours of receiving notification of the schedule.
Employers may provide less than 96 hours’ notice of schedule in the case of emergency, where a collective agreement specifies otherwise, or where the change in schedule was requested by the employee under a “Flexible Work Arrangement” (see below).
Employers must keep records of work schedules, employee refusals, and circumstances of a nature that made it necessary for the employee to work despite less than 96 hours’ notice being provided.
Notice of Shift Change (effective September 1, 2019)
With limited exceptions, employers will be required to give at least 24 hours’ notice of any change to a period or shift during which an employee is due to work. The employer will be required to keep a record of any written notice provided in advance of a shift change.
Time Off in Lieu of Overtime (effective September 1, 2019)
Where the employer agrees, employees may take time off instead of receiving pay for overtime hours worked. Employers will be required to keep a record of any written agreement between the employer and the employee to substitute time off in lieu of payment for overtime.
Where the employee does not take all of the time off in lieu within 3 months after the end of the pay period in which the overtime was worked, or such longer period of up to 12 months as may be agreed by the employer and employee, then the employer must pay out the remainder as overtime pay. Payout of banked time is also required if an employee entitled to time off in lieu of overtime is terminated without having taken all of the time off.
Right to Refuse Overtime (effective September 1, 2019)
Employees may refuse to work overtime requested by their employer in order to fulfil family responsibilities. The employee may refuse only if they have taken reasonable steps to carry out their family responsibility by other means, so as to enable them to work overtime, and having done so, are still required to carry out that family responsibility during the period of the overtime. However, employees may not refuse overtime if it is necessary in order to deal with unforeseeable emergency situations.
Employers will be required to keep records of any employee refusals as well as records explaining the nature of any situation that made it necessary for the employee to work overtime.
Modified Work Schedules (effective September 1, 2019)
The Code is amended to allow modified work schedules, including those under which the hours exceed the maximum set out in the Code, to apply to individual employees, not just groups of employees. Employers will be required to keep a record of any written agreement entered into with one or more employees with respect to a modified work schedule.
Flexible Work Arrangements (effective September 1, 2019)
Employees who have at least six consecutive months of continuous employment with an employer will have the right to request, in writing, a change to the following terms and conditions of their employment:
- the number of hours that the employee is required to work;
- the employee’s work schedule;
- the employee’s location of work; and
- any terms and conditions that apply to the employee and that are prescribed by regulation.
Employers must respond to requests for flexible work arrangements in writing within 30 days of receiving the request. Employers can grant the request in whole or in part, or may refuse the request on one or more of the following grounds:
- the requested change would result in additional costs that would be a burden on the employer;
- the requested change would have a detrimental impact on the quality or quantity of work within the employer’s industrial establishment, on the ability to meet customer demand or on any other aspect of performance within that industrial establishment;
- the employer is unable to reorganize work among existing employees or to recruit additional employees in order to manage the requested change;
- there would be insufficient work available for the employee if the requested change was granted; and
- any ground prescribed by regulation.
With the introduction of the new right for employees to request flexible work arrangements, employers are required to keep records of written requests and responses and related documentation.
Federally-regulated motor carriers should also be aware of recent amendments to the federal Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations, which regulations provide more restrictive rules than the CLC in respect of the hours that may be worked by federally-regulated drivers of commercial vehicles. Pursuant to recent amendments, compliance with hours of service requirements for such commercial drivers must be tracked using electronic logging devices (ELDs) rather than the paper logs of the past.
Leaves of Absence
Personal Leave (effective September 1, 2019)
Employees will be entitled to take up to 5 days of personal leave, with the first 3 days being paid after three months of continuous employment. Employees will be eligible for personal leave under the following circumstances:
- treating personal illness or injury;
- carrying out responsibilities related to the health or care of any of their family members;
- carrying out responsibilities related to the education of any of their family members who are under 18 years of age;
- addressing any urgent matter concerning themselves or their family members;
- attending their citizenship ceremony under the Citizenship Act; and
- any other reason prescribed by regulation.
Medical Leave (effective September 1, 2019)
Existing sick leave provisions will be renamed to “medical Leave” and will now encompass organ donation and medical appointments during working hours.
In the case of an absence of 3 days or longer, the employer may require a certificate issued by a health care practitioner “certifying that the employee was incapable of working for the period of time that they were absent from work.”
Victims of Family Violence Leave (effective September 1, 2019)
The first 5 days of leave for victims of family violence will now be paid after 3 months of continuous employment.
Court or Jury Duty Leave (effective September 1, 2019)
Employees will be entitled to an unpaid leave of absence to attend court to appear as a witness, act as juror or participate in the jury selection process. There will be no limitation on the length or frequency of these leaves.
Bereavement Leave (effective September 1, 2019)
Bereavement leave is increased from 3 to 5 days, with the first 3 days paid for employees with three consecutive months of continuous employment. The leave may be taken in one or two periods.
Leave for Traditional Aboriginal Practices (effective September 1, 2019)
Employees who are Aboriginal and who have completed three consecutive months of continuous employment will be entitled to take a new leave for traditional aboriginal practices of up to 5 unpaid days in each calendar year.
Maternity and Parental Leave (effective since December 3, 2017) and Parental Sharing Benefit (effective since March 17, 2019)
The maximum lengths of maternity and parental leave entitlements under the Code have been extended, as have the applicable periods when these leaves may be taken both prior to and after the date of birth or the child’s coming into the care of the employee.
Coordinated amendments to the Employment Insurance Act have introduced a Parental Sharing Benefit, which provides additional weeks of EI benefits to families when parents of a newborn or newly adopted child share parental leave.
Leave to Care for a Critically Ill Adult (effective December 3, 2017)
A new unpaid leave of up to 17 weeks for a family member to care for a critically ill adult is now in force. This leave is in addition to the separate and pre-existing 37-week leave to care for a critically ill child.
Other Leaves (effective September 1, 2019)
Employees will no longer be required to complete six months of continuous service before being entitled to Maternity Leave, Parental Leave, a Leave Related to Critical Illness or a Leave Related to Death or Disappearance.
Employees employed by multiple employers, specifically in the long-shoring industry, are not necessarily considered continuously employed. For the purposes of qualifying for certain leaves with length of service requirements, new Regulations under the Code deem employees engaged in multi-employer employment to be continuously employed.
Employees will be able to submit documentation in support of a leave from a broader class of “health care practitioners,” rather than “qualified medical practitioners,” as the Code now provides.
Vacation and Holiday Pay
Vacation Pay (effective September 1, 2019)
Vacation entitlements will be increased to the following:
Continuous Service Requirement
2 weeks’ vacation (or 4% vacation pay)
3 weeks’ vacation (or 6% vacation pay)
4 weeks’ vacation (or 8% vacation pay)
Vacation Time (effective September 1, 2019)
The Code is amended to provide that annual vacation may be taken in more than one period. In such cases, the employer pays to the employee the proportion of vacation pay corresponding with the amount of vacation taken.
Employees will also be able to postpone, interrupt and resume vacation in order to take a leave of absence or time off on account of injury or illness.
Holiday Pay (effective September 1, 2019)
The current exclusion for general holiday pay for holidays that occur within an employee’s first 30 days of employment will be removed.
Holiday pay must be at least equal to 1/20th of the employee’s wages (excluding overtime earnings) for the four-week period immediately preceding the week in which the holiday occurs.
Substitution of General Holidays (effective September 1, 2019)
The Code will permit employers to substitute any other day of work for a general holiday if the substitution has been approved by the employee in writing, or in the case of a substitution that affects more than one employee, by at least 70% of the affected employees, or by the employees’ trade union.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (effective on royal assent, if passed)
Legislation which would amend the Code to make September 30th a new federal holiday, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, passed Third Reading in the House of Commons last March. However, the Senate adjourned for summer without passing the bill, leaving the proposed holiday’s fate uncertain.
Termination of Employment
Individual Terminations (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council)
The Code’s existing two-week notice period for individual terminations will be replaced with the following graduated notice system:
Minimum Service Requirement
Notice Period Entitlement
3 months of continuous service
2 weeks’ notice
3 years of continuous service
3 weeks’ notice
4 years of continuous service
4 weeks’ notice
5 years of continuous service
5 weeks’ notice
6 years of continuous service
6 weeks’ notice
7 years of continuous service
7 weeks’ notice
8 years of continuous service
8 weeks’ notice
Group Terminations (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council but no earlier than September 1, 2019)
The Code amendments will supplement the existing 16-week notice to the Minister of Labour (“Minister”) with a concurrent requirement for notification to all affected employees who are defined as “redundant employees.” These employees will be entitled to individual notice of at least 8 weeks, which can be satisfied by way of written notice, pay in lieu, or a combination thereof.
If a redundant employee to whom group notice has been given continues to be employed for more than two weeks after the date specified in the notice, the employer will be prohibited from terminating their employment unless the employee provides written consent, the termination is by way of dismissal for just cause, or the termination is part of another group termination or is an individual termination and the employer complies with the respective requirements under the Code.
Statement of Benefits (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council)
Employers will also be required to provide terminated employees with a statement of benefits setting out the affected employee’s vacation benefits, wages, severance pay and any other benefits and pay arising from their employment.
Non-Standard Employment and Temporary Help Agencies
Employment Status Reverse Onus (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council but no earlier than September 1, 2019)
Employers will be prohibited from treating an employee as if they were not their employee in order to avoid their obligations or deprive the employee of their rights under Part III of the Code (Standard Hours, Wages, Vacations). If, in any proceeding in respect of a complaint made under Part III, the employer alleges that the complainant is not their employee, the burden of proof will be on the employer.
Equal Pay (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council but no earlier than September 1, 2019)
No employee, including part-time, casual, contract or seasonal, may be paid less than what is paid to full-time employees who perform the same job. The rule will apply unless there are objective reasons to justify a differential wage rate such as seniority or merit.
Employees will have a right to request a review of their wages and employers will be required to respond by either increasing their wage rate or providing a written explanation justifying the difference.
Temporary Help Agencies (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council but no earlier than September 1, 2019)
Temporary help agencies will be subject to a number of prohibitions regarding the payment of fees and the restriction of employees of the temporary help Agency entering into employment relationships with clients of the Agency, similar to those found under several provincial ESAs.
Temporary help agencies will also be required to uphold the new equal pay provision for their employees and will be prohibited from paying their employees less than the employees of their client who perform the same job unless there are objective reasons to justify a differential wage rate, such as seniority or merit.
Employees of these agencies will also have the right to request a review of their wages and the Agency will be required to respond by either increasing their wage rate or providing a written explanation justifying the difference.
Deemed Continuity of Employment upon the Transfer of a Work, Undertaking or Business (Effective September 1, 2019)
The Code provisions deeming employment to be continuous despite the transfer of a work, undertaking, or business, or any part of a work, undertaking, or business, from one employer to another employer by sale, merger, or otherwise, have been amended.
In addition to transfers between two federally-regulated employers, successorship will now apply to businesses that become federally-regulated after a transfer of the business, which will deem employment continuous from a provincially-regulated employer to a federally-regulated employer.
A new provision will also deem employment to be continuous if, due to a contract being awarded through a retendering process, a second employer becomes responsible for carrying out any particular federal work, undertaking or business, or part of one, that was previously carried out by a first employer.
Generally, these transfer provisions will not apply if the first day of employment with the new employer is more than 13 weeks after the earlier of the last day of work with the previous employer or the transfer of the federal work, undertaking or business.
The object of these provisions is to require a transferee employer to recognize its employees’ service with the transferor employer when duration of service determines the nature of an employment benefit. Although these provisions occur in Division IV of the Code, concerning annual vacations, they are specifically incorporated into other divisions and apply to various entitlements.
Prior service with an employer will not count towards calculation of termination notice or severance pay if those entitlements were provided by the first employer.
Workplace Harassment and Violence (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council)
Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, received royal assent on October 25, 2018, and is expected to come into force in 2020. New Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations will come into force at the same time.
The Code will define “harassment and violence” as “any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee.” This amendment expands the current definition of workplace violence under Section 122.1, which focuses only on “accidents and injury to health arising out of, linked with or occurring in the course of employment to which this Part applies.”
The Bill C-65 Code amendments and Harassment and Violence Regulations, summarized below, are broadly similar to those added to several provincial health and safety statutes in recent years. However, the amended Code provisions on harassment and violence will apply to both current and former employees, and will create onerous record-keeping and reporting requirements. Other notable features of the Code’s new harassment and violence provisions include their attention to threats arising outside of the workplace, and the enhanced roles of policy committees, workplace committees and health and safety representatives.
- Workplace assessment: Employers will have to jointly (i.e. with the policy committee, or if there is no policy committee, with the workplace committee or health and safety representative) conduct a workplace assessment that identifies risks of harassment and violence in the workplace, and implement preventive measures to protect the workplace from these risks. The workplace assessment will need to be reviewed and updated at least every 3 years. A workplace assessment review must also be undertaken in certain situations where the resolution process cannot proceed, when the complainant wishes to remain anonymous, when the complainant chooses to stop proceeding with the resolution process prior to an investigation being started, or when the responding party is not an employee or the employer.
- Harassment and violence prevention policy: The Code will require federal employers to have workplace harassment and violence policies. In order to be compliant with the legislation, these policies must designate a person to receive complaints of harassment and violence. Upon receiving a complaint, the designated person or supervisor must attempt to resolve the complaint with the employee promptly. Unlike other complaints, the employer cannot refer an unresolved harassment or violence complaint to an internal committee or representative. This is intended to protect the parties’ privacy and prevent undue influence. The policy must also outline how an employer is to be informed of external dangers, such as family violence and stalking, that could result in harassment and violence in the workplace, and the measures they may implement to minimize those dangers.
- Investigation and resolution: The resolution process will require employers to respond to every notification of an occurrence of harassment and violence in their workplace, starting within five days of receiving a notification. The resolution process includes multiple options for resolution: early resolution, conciliation and investigation. The employer must ensure that early resolution and conciliation, if any, are concluded within 6 months of a notification. An investigation must be completed within one year from the date of the notification. While early resolution and conciliation are more flexible, if an investigation is chosen to address the occurrence, employers will have to follow the requirements regarding the qualifications of an investigator, how they may be appointed, what types of reports the investigator must submit, and how the employer will handle those reports. In addition, if an employer wishes to develop or identify a list of investigators, they must do so jointly. The Regulations outline a resolution process that focuses on greater communication between the employer and the parties through monthly updates. They also increase the complainant’s control of the resolution process should early resolution fail. Complaints of violence or harassment that are not resolved between the employee and the employer fall to the Minister, rather than an internal workplace committee or health and safety representative. The Minister is obligated to investigate the complaint unless the Minister is of the opinion that the complaint has been adequately dealt with, or the matter is trivial, frivolous, or vexatious.
- Records and reports: To support enforcement of the proposed Regulations, employers will have to keep a number of records, including records of all notifications of harassment and violence in their workplace; records of the actions taken to address the notifications; records of the decisions they make in the event they are unable to agree on an issue that they must do jointly; and records of any delays to the timelines. Internally, employers will be required to report aggregated data on occurrences resolved through early resolution and conciliation twice per year to the policy committee or, if there is no policy committee, to the workplace committee or health and safety representative. This internal reporting is supposed to ensure that the committees or representatives have all necessary information to conduct their responsibilities in monitoring the workplace, reviewing and updating the workplace assessment, prevention policy and training, and submitting annual reports. Further, in order to improve data collection on the prevalence and types of occurrences of harassment and violence in federal workplaces, employers must report an occurrence that results in the death of an employee within 24 hours and aggregated data on all occurrences annually to the Minister.
- Emergency procedures: Employers will be required to jointly develop and implement emergency procedures to be followed in situations where an occurrence of harassment or violence poses an immediate danger to the health and safety of employees or when there is a threat of such an occurrence happening in the workplace.
- Training: Employers will be required to jointly identify or develop harassment and violence training and ensure it is delivered to employees, employers and the designated recipient. The training will have to be delivered at least every three years and must provide instruction on the elements of the prevention policy, as well as various other elements including crisis prevention, personal safety and de-escalation techniques, and how to respond appropriately to different types of occurrences.
- Support measures: In addition to employers’ obligations to “prevent” and “protect against” and “respond to” incidents of harassment and violence, Bill C-65 amends the Code to require that employers “offer support to employees affected by harassment and violence in the work place.” The proposed Regulations elaborate on this duty by specifying that employers must provide information respecting the medical, psychological or other support services that are available within their geographical area.
- Application to former employees: Employers’ harassment and violence obligations under the Code will apply to current employees and former employees. However, those obligations are limited to occurrences of harassment and violence in the workplace which become known to the employer within three months after the day on which the former employee ceased to be employed by the employer.
Employment Equity and Accessibility
Federal Pay Equity Legislation (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council)
A new Pay Equity Act will introduce a pay equity framework for federally-regulated employers with more than 10 employees in both the public and private sectors. The legislation received royal assent on December 13, 2018, and is expected to come into force in 2020. Requirements under the Act parallel those under pay equity legislation in Ontario and Quebec.
Federal employers will be required to establish and enact a pay equity plan within three years. The purpose of the plan is to identify and correct differences in compensation between predominantly female and predominantly male job classes for which the work performed is of equal value.
Generally, for employers with over 100 employees, or more than 10 unionized employees, pay equity plans must be prepared by a dedicated pay equity committee, wherein management and employees are both represented. The committee (or employer, where no committee is required) will be required to conduct a full review of jobs that are part of the plan and solicit feedback from employees on the proposed plan.
Any compensation increases required to rectify differences in compensation which have been identified by a pay equity plan must be made no later than 90 days after the plan is posted. Wage increases can be phased in if the total amount of the required increase, in dollars, is more than 1% of the employer’s payroll for the previous year.
Once a first pay equity plan has been adopted, it must be updated by the pay equity committee (or employer, where no committee is required) every five years to identify pay inequities that may have emerged. In addition to the compensation increases described above, retroactive lump sum payments must also be provided where a second or subsequent pay equity plan identifies differences in compensation resulting from any change since the adoption of the previous pay equity plan that is likely to have had an impact on pay equity. Any such lump sums must also be provided to former employees who occupied a position in the affected job classification during the applicable period.
The Pay Equity Act also establishes the powers, duties and functions of the Pay Equity Commissioner. The Commissioner will be responsible for determining disputes, complaints, and objections, including those concerning the establishment and updating of pay equity plans, and alleged reprisals and interference with the pay equity process. The Commissioner may conduct compliance audits and investigations, make orders, and impose administrative monetary penalties for violations. In certain instances, the Commissioner may dismiss or refer matters to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for determination.
Employers will be required to provide an annual statement to the Commissioner and maintain certain records relating to their pay equity plans, including any updates.
Federal Accessibility Legislation (in force since July 11, 2019)
The Accessible Canada Act (“Act”) received royal assent on June 21, 2019, and came into force on July 11th. The legislation aims to achieve a barrier-free Canada on or before January 1, 2040.
Similar to provincial accessibility statutes, like the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the federal legislation will require organizations to remove barriers to full and equal participation of all persons in society, especially persons with disabilities, in prescribed areas: employment, the built environment, information and communication technologies, the procurement of goods and services, the delivery of programs and services, and transportation.
The Act will require federally-regulated transportation entities to prepare and publish accessibility plans and progress reports in consultation with persons with disabilities. The Canadian Transportation Agency (the “Agency”) will continue to have oversight over accessibility in the federal transportation sector, with enhanced compliance and enforcement powers. The accessibility plans will be measured against regulations adopted by the Agency.
The Agency must make regulations specifying the duties of regulated entities under its purview within the next two years. The first of these regulations, entitled the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations and pre-published on March 19, 2019, will be adopted pursuant to the same provision of the Canada Transportation Act (“CTA”). The regulations are identified by the Act but are not yet in force.
Regulated entities will be required to notify the Agency of their publication of accessibility plans, feedback processes, and progress reports. Non-compliance with these obligations may be considered violations of the CTA, subject to maximum possible fines of $250,000 for each violation. The Agency may exempt regulated entities from compliance with their accessibility obligations for up to three years.
The Agency is authorized to inquire into potential contraventions of accessibility regulations by regulated entities upon application by an individual, or on its own initiative. It has been granted the power to order production of any records, reports, electronic data or other documents that it believes to be relevant. The Act also gives the Agency additional remedies in cases of undue barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities, such as ordering corrective measures, compensation for wage loss, and compensation for the costs of obtaining alternative goods, services, or accommodation as a result of a barrier. Compensation of up to $20,000 may be ordered for pain and suffering or if the Agency determines that a barrier is the result of a wilful or reckless practice.
Simple compliance with regulations made under the CTA for the removal of barriers does not preclude the Agency from determining that undue barriers to accessibility continue to exist. However, in such cases, the Agency may only require the adoption of corrective measures as a remedy. The Act also stipulates that a regulated entity is liable for a violation that is committed by its employees or agents during the course of their employment or within the scope of their authority, regardless of whether the employee or agent has been identified.
New Pay Transparency Measures (expected to come into force Winter 2020, on a day to be fixed by order-in-council)
The Government’s 2019 budget bill, which received royal assent on June 21, 2019, amends the Employment Equity Act in order to require federally-regulated private sector employers to report salary information that supports employment equity reporting beyond salary ranges, including making wage gap information by occupational groups more evident. Such additional information to be reported will be prescribed by future regulations.
Free Feminine Hygiene Products (status TBD)
Pursuant to a recently published notice, the Government is considering amendments to regulations under Part II of the Code to require that federally-regulated employers provide free menstrual products in the workplace for use by their employees.
Other Changes Affecting Federally-Regulated Workplaces
Other changes include:
- Increasing the period that may be covered by a payment order, allowing for the recovery of unpaid wages and other amounts due for up to two years before the day on which a complaint was made, an employee’s employment was terminated, or an inspection was started (effective since April 1, 2019);
- Increasing the minimum age for working to 18 (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council);
- A requirement to provide employees with Ministerial publications on rights and obligations within a specified time period (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council); and
- A requirement to provide employees with a “written statement containing information relating to their employment that is prescribed by regulation” as well as any updates within a specified time period (effective on a day to be fixed by order-in-council).
Should you have any questions or require more information about these updates, please do not hesitate to contact one of the members of our Labour & Employment Group.
 An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada (the Accessible Canada Act) (Assented to 21 June 2019).
 An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 (Assented to 25th October, 2018); proposed Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations.
 Pay Equity Act (S.C. 2018, c. 27, s. 416) (Assented to December 13, 2018).
 An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures (Assented to 21 June 2019).