Client Update: 2013 Labour & Employment Atlantic Canada Legislative Update
As we move into 2014, we know our region’s employers will want to be aware of new legislation that has passed or could soon pass that may affect them. The following is what has become our annual Atlantic Canada Labour and Employment Legislative Update after a generally very busy 2013 in Atlantic Canada.
In snapshot form, amendments were introduced in New Brunswick that will see changes come into effect on June 1, 2014 to the Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the thrust was on protecting offshore oil workers with new legislation and regulations and similar to spring legislation introduced in Nova Scotia, the New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador governments amended their employment standards legislation to protect families of critically ill children with new forms of workplace leaves. A newly elected government in Nova Scotia has revisited and made changes to first contract arbitration provisions introduced in 2010 under the Trade Union Act and also introduced an amendment to the Labour Standards Code that will see a new holiday in Nova Scotia in February 2015. Prince Edward Island made changes to its Occupational Health and Safety Act and has included new grounds for protection under its Human Rights Act.
The following is a province-by-province roundup of changes we know employers will be interested in knowing about.
1. NEW BRUNSWICK
New Brunswick introduced several amendments during both the spring and fall sittings of the legislature which could impact employers.
Several amendments involve the Employment Standards Act and include provisions that:
- Extend the timeline for requesting a written notice of a decision by the Director.
- Allow the Director to issue a certificate requiring payment to former employees if the director believes an employer is insolvent.
- Create liability for directors of corporations.
- Create protections for foreign workers.
- Provide special leaves for parents and guardians of children.
Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act will come into effect on June 1, 2014, and impact time limits for making a claim and reporting requirements in the event of a workplace injury.
Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act will also come into effect on June 1, 2014. These amendments are significant and include requirements for written safety policies and time limits for reporting a workplace incident.
Other new legislation introduced this fall includes the repeal of the Public Service Superannuation Act.
Meanwhile, the provincial government has initiated a three-year, multi-stage review of workers’ compensation legislation. This will impact the Workers’ Compensation Act as well as the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission Act. The last such review was undertaken over twenty years ago. The current review’s objective is to ensure the workers’ compensation system addresses the needs and realities of current and future workplaces and balances employees’ compensation needs with employers’ financial interests.
The first stage of the review will focus on the calculation of benefits under section 38.11 (9) of the Workers’ Compensation Act, whether to introduce a dispute resolution mechanism relating to processes and procedures, and the governance structure and mandate related to the Appeals Tribunal.
(a) Amendments and New Legislation:
Employment Standards Act
New Brunswick introduced several amendments during the spring sitting of the legislature. In summary, amendments to the Employment Standards Actreceived Royal Assent on June 21, 2013. These amendments will bring the following changes on a future date by proclamation:
- A complainant whose complaint has been acted on and dismissed by the Director may make a written request to the Director to refer the matter to the Board, within 14 days after being advised in writing of the dismissal. Currently, the legislation provides for a limit of 10 days for such a request to be made.
- The Director may issue a certificate if it is believed an employer is insolvent setting forth the amount of money owed to an employee. Where the Director is satisfied that allegations contained in a complaint represent a violation of Part III (Employment Standards and Minimum Wage), the Director may require an investigation by an employment standard officer. If the officer issues a non-compliance notice, and compliance does not occur within 30 days, the Director may impose an administrative penalty of $150 to $900.
- Under the amendment, a person who is a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable with the corporation to an employee or former employee of the corporation for:
- Up to six months’ wages owed to an employee or former employee that was earned or became due while that person was a director.
- Up to 12 months of vacation pay or pay in lieu of vacation owing to an employee or former employee that accrued while the person was a director.
In the fall sitting, the legislature introduced two additional bills amending the Employment Standards Act.
Bill No. 21, An Act to Amend An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, would amend the not yet proclaimed An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, SNB 2013, c. 13 clarifies the circumstances in which a director would be held liable for unpaid wages and vacation pay. If Bill 21 is passed:
- A director becomes liable only after the corporation fails to comply with an order directing the payment of unpaid wages or vacation pay owing.
- A director would escape liability if he or she exercised reasonable diligence to provide the payments owed to an employee.
- A director would not be held liable for any administrative penalties imposed on the corporation.
Bill No. 22, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, introduces protections for foreign workers and new unpaid leaves for parents and guardians to care for critically ill or injured children or to cope with a situation where their child dies or disappears as a result of a suspected crime. If passed, the following summarized changes would take effect on proclamation:
- A registry would be created for employers who recruit foreign workers.
- Employers cannot require a foreign worker to use immigration consultants as a condition of employment.
- Employers cannot recover the costs incurred in recruiting foreign workers from foreign workers unless it is allowed under the recruitment program.
- Employers cannot reduce the wages, reduce or eliminate benefits, or change the terms or conditions of employment after recruiting a foreign worker.
- Employers and recruiters working for employers cannot misrepresent information about the conditions of employment, duties, wages and other employment information and they cannot provide false or misleading information about employers’ and employees’ rights to foreign workers.
- Employers and recruiters working for employers cannot take possession of or retain a foreign worker’s property, including the foreign worker’s passport or work permit.
- Employers who provides accommodation for foreign workers cannot refuse foreign workers the ability to vacate those accommodations.
- Employers and recruiters working for employers cannot threaten a foreign worker with deportation or another action for which there is no lawful cause.
- Employers must provide unpaid leave up to 37 weeks for employees to care for a critically ill or injured child provided a qualified medical practitioner has issued a certificate.
- Employers must also provide unpaid leave up to 37 weeks for employees whose child has died or disappeared as a result of a suspected crime.
- If both parents work for the same employer, they may not take more than a combined 37 weeks of unpaid leave in these circumstances.
Workers’ Compensation Act, RSNB 1973, c. W-13 – Effective June 1, 2014
An Act to Amend the Workers’ Compensation Act, SNB 2013 c. 14, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2013 and will come into force on June 1, 2014. The Act will be changed to include the following:
- An application for compensation must be made within one year after the date of a workplace accident, or, where death occurs, within six months after the date of the accident. The Commission would have the discretion to extend the time period if it considered a delay was justified.
- Notice to the Commission must be made within three days after a worker suffers an injury as a result of a workplace accident and must be on a form provided by the Commission setting forth certain information relating to the worker and the incident.
Occupational Health and Safety Act, SNB 1983, c. O-0.2 – Effective June 1, 2014
An Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, SNB 2013 c. 15, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2013 and will come into force on June 1, 2014. The Act will change to include the following:
- Employers with 20 or more employees must establish a written safety policy in consultation with employees that sets out responsibilities of both parties at the workplace. A copy of this policy must be kept at the workplace and the employer is obliged to provide a copy of the policy to an officer on request.
- The safety policy must address a number of issues including training, preparation of written work procedures and codes of practice, a hazard identification system, and a system for prompt investigation of hazardous occurrences.
- Employers must review their health and safety program at least once a year in consultation with the health and safety representative.
- Employers must ensure new employees receive orientation and training in accordance with their employment before reporting for work. This orientation information will, among other things, require information on rights and liabilities under the Act and regulations.
- Employers must notify the Commission immediately if an employee suffers certain types of injuries including loss of consciousness, an amputation, a deep laceration or death.
- Employers must notify the Commission immediately if an accidental explosion or exposure to a biological, chemical or physical agent occurs at a place of employment or a catastrophic event or a catastrophic equipment failure occurs at a place of employment that results in injury or could have resulted in injury.
An Act Respecting Pensions under the Public Service Superannuation Act – Effective January 1, 2014
Bill No. 11, An Act Respecting Pensions under the Public Service Superannuation Act repeals the Public Service Superannuation Act, RSNB 1973, c. P-26, and converts the pension plan under the PSSA into a shared risk plan for public sector employees and public sector retirees.
2. NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
The Newfoundland and Labrador legislature has amended the Labour Standards Act to include two new leaves of absence (1) for an employee whose child has disappeared or died as a result of a crime; and (2) for an employee whose child is critically ill. The legislature also amended the Human Rights Act to provide “gender identity” and “gender expression” protections. The province has also developed a new occupational health and safety regime applicable to the offshore. Regulations were introduced that provide insurance coverage for volunteer search and rescue members and new regulations were made under the Labour Relations Act to establish certain work as a “Special Project” for the purpose of collective bargaining. In addition, some regulations were amended dealing with pension plans and investments. More detailed information follows.
(a) Amendments and New Legislation:
Labour Standards Act , RSNL 1990 cL-2 – Effective December 10, 2013
The Labour Standards Act sets out the employment standards applicable in Newfoundland and Labrador. There were two amendments made to the legislation this fall, both of which came into effect on December 10, 2013. They establish new categories of unpaid leave from employment: first, for an employee whose child has disappeared or died as a result of a crime; and second, for an employee whose child is critically ill.
- If an employee has been working with the employer for 30 days, they may take an unpaid leave of absence for up to 104 weeks if their child has died, or up to 52 weeks if the child has disappeared, and it is probable in the circumstances that the death or disappearance was the result of a crime. There is an exception to this rule if the employee is the person charged with the crime. The Act also now provides up to 37 weeks’ unpaid leave to the parent or guardian of a child who is critically ill, as certified by a physician, so long as the parent has been working for the employer for 30 days.
- During the crime, disappearance, or critical illness leave, the employer is prohibited from dismissing the employee for reasons relating to the leave. If the employee is terminated during the leave, the employer bears a higher responsibility to demonstrate that it was unrelated to the unpaid leave. Employers must provide equivalent or better terms and conditions of employment upon the employee’s return to work.
These new forms of employee leave are in addition to previously existing compassionate care leave, which provides for up to eight weeks of unpaid leave where a family member is terminally ill and has a significant risk of death in the short term. The death of an employee’s child will likely also entitle that person to bereavement leave, in accordance with the other relevant provisions of the Act.
For a Q&A on these new leaves, please visit our blog on New Forms of unpaid leave for parents and guardians of children in crisis.
Human Rights Act , 2010, SNL 2010, c. H-13.1 – Effective December 10, 2013
The Human Rights Act, 2010 was amended on December 10, 2013 to add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of protected grounds of discrimination. This amendment brings the Newfoundland and Labrador legislation in line with the protections offered in many other Canadian jurisdictions. We do not believe, however, that this is a substantial change to the content of the law, given that “sexual orientation” and “sex” already appear in the Act, and would likely have provided some protection against discrimination based on gender identity or expression.
Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland and Labrador Act, (amendments) SNL 2013, c 3 (not yet in force)
These amendments will establish a new occupational health and safety regime in the offshore areas. While the amendments are not yet in force, those engaged in the industry are encouraged to take proactive measures to ensure compliance when it does take effect.
Some highlights include:
- Provincial labour ministers and the federal Minister of Natural Resources (in consultation with the federal Minister of Labour and Transport Canada) are enacting brand new regulations for offshore occupational health and safety. The C-NLOPB will administer these regulations.
- Workers in transit to or from offshore platforms will be covered by this regime.
- The C-NLOPB will be authorized to disclose to the public information related to occupational health and safety.
- Occupational safety officers, conservation officers, chief safety officers and chief conservation officers are no longer appointed by the C-NLOPB. Rather, the board makes recommendations to both the provincial and federal ministers, who make a joint designation.
- Occupational health and safety officers will have increased enforcement powers, including the powers of inspection and investigation, warrant provisions and order measures in case of dangerous situations.
- Owners of offshore facilities are responsible for facilitating and funding inspector’s visits to and from the facility, including transportation, accommodations and meals.
- Potential financial liability for owners of offshore oil installations has been increased. This includes liability for the full cost of remediation of petroleum product spills or discharges, and any expenses incurred by government agencies in responding to a spill or discharge.
- Corporate liability is explicitly established for offences under the legislation.
- There is no requirement to prove that a person intended to commit an offence by making false statements or entries or destroying, falsifying, or mutilating reports. Any such action constitutes an offence, regardless of the intent of the individual.
- There is now a defence for any person who establishes that he or she exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of an offence.
- An Auditing and Evaluation Committee is to be established for the C-NLOPB with the purpose of ensuring that the officers and employees of the board act in accordance with management systems and controls established by the board.
Employers involved in offshore petroleum activities are encouraged to review Part III.1 – Occupational Health and Safety to become familiar with the new occupational health and safety regime prior to its coming into effect at some point in the future, as yet unannounced.
Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Regulations, NLR 2/13
The Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Regulations now provide insurance coverage for volunteer search and rescue members and auxiliary constables while they are carrying out duties and responsibilities tasked by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The recognized volunteer search and rescue organizations are the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association Inc. Members of these organizations are provided with this coverage:
- From the time they leave their residence or place of employment to respond to a call until they have completed the activities required to respond to the call.
- While carrying out search and rescue activities, including evidence searches.
- While attending educational and training sessions sanctioned by the RNC or RCMP.
Lower Churchill Special Project Orders, NL Regs. 67/13, 68/13, and 69/13
These regulations under the Labour Relations Act relating to the Muskrat Falls development in Labrador establish particular work as a “Special Project”, capable of supporting a collective agreement which is different from the Provincial Collective Agreement which is applicable in the construction industry generally. The affected projects are:
- The construction of transmission lines and related infrastructure for the Labrador Island Link and Muskrat Falls to Churchill Falls Link, under the Lower Churchill Project Transmission Construction Special Project Order, NL Reg. 68/13.
- The construction of hydroelectric generating installations and related facilities at Muskrat Falls, under the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Generation Project Special Project Order, NL Reg. 67/13.
- Undertaking with respect to the clearing of the reservoir for the construction of the hydroelectric generating installation and related facilities at Muskrat Falls, under the Lower Churchill Reservoir Clearing Special Project Order, NL Reg. 69/13.
Each Special Project Order establishes an employers’ organization for the purposes of engaging in collective bargaining. Clients who are, or who wish to become, engaged in the Muskrat Falls development project should make themselves aware of the implications of the existence of these Special Project Orders.
Pension Benefits Act Regulations, NLR 2/13
This amendment to the Pension Benefits Act Regulations extends the period that Memorial University of Newfoundland is exempt from making payments to maintain the solvency of the Memorial University Pension Plan to December 31, 2015.
The regulations were amended as of January 4, 2013 and are deemed in effect retroactively to January 1, 2011.
This is in line with similar amendments in 2004 (NLR 122/04) and 2006 (NLR 40/06). This exemption was first introduced by NLR 135/03 on December 9, 2003.
Pension Benefits Act Regulations NLR 29/13
The Pension Benefits Act Regulations were amended to adopt Schedule III of the Pension Standards Regulations, 1985 (Canada). Schedule III outlines permitted pension investments and replaces the previous investment rules contained in the Pension Benefits Act.
3. NOVA SCOTIA
In the spring session, amendments were made to the Labour Standards Code that provide for unpaid leaves of absence in the case of critically ill or abducted children. These amendments received Royal Assent and came into force on July 9, 2013. Amendments to the Pension Benefits Act provide a broader definition of “spouse”. This amendment received Royal Assent and is now in effect. Workers’ Compensation Act amendments allow for reinstatement of benefits to spouses who lost those benefits on remarriage. In addition, the legislature passed Bill 61, the Cyber-safety Act. Although aimed at preventing events in light of a recent teen suicide in Nova Scotia, Bill 61 goes further by creating the tort that, through the common law principle of vicarious liability, may result in workplace litigation. More can be read on the Act by visiting our blog and reading The business case against workplace bullies just got stronger! Parts of the Cyber-safety Act came into effect on August 7, 2013. The province also created more regulations under the Labour Standards Code General Regulations dealing with foreign workers in the province that came into effect on February 1, 2013, May 1, 2013 and September 2013. New Occupational Health and Safety Act regulations came into effect on June 12, 2013 that combine previous regulations and provide new definitions and new standards, including adopting visibility standards for clothing.
The fall session saw a new Liberal government amend the Trade Union Actto make changes to sections dealing with first contract arbitration, amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act that deal with appeals, and introduce new legislation providing for a February holiday in the province in 2015.
(a) Amendments and New Legislation:
Labour Standards Code, RSNS 1989, c. 246 – in effect July 9, 2013
Bill No. 3, Support for Parents of Critically Ill or Abducted Children Actamends the Labour Standards Code to provide for unpaid leave from employment for parents (including spouses and other caregivers) on three occurrences:
- Their child becomes critically ill – up to 37 weeks’ unpaid leave.
- Their child has disappeared as a result of a probable criminal act – up to 52 weeks’ unpaid leave.
- Their child has been killed as the result of a probable criminal act – up to 104 weeks’ unpaid leave.
Eligibility is based on the parent or caregiver having been employed with the employer for a minimum of three months.
Pension Benefits Act, RSNS 1989, c 340 – in effect May 10, 2013
Bill No. 42 amends the Pension Benefits Act to recognize spousal relationships outside of traditional marriage. The amendment clarifies the definition of “spouse” and provides that cohabitation is required for a continuous period of time. In addition, the legislation is amended to be more inclusive of unmarried spouses changing the heading at Section 74 from “Marriage Breakdown” to “Breakdown of Spousal Relationship” and changing the law in Section 74 to include pension entitlement for former spouses.
Workers’ Compensation Act, SNS 1994-95, c 10 – in effect May 10, 2013
Bill No. 45, the Widows’ Pension Act, amends the Workers’ Compensation Act to extend the time frame in which a dependent spouse of a deceased pensioner is entitled to reinstatement of survivor benefits. The legislation reinstates benefits that were discontinued on remarriage by the surviving spouse before April 17, 1985. Application for such benefits must be made on or before June 1, 2014. The legislation provides discretion to the Board to extend that deadline.
Trade Union Act, RSNS 1989, c. 475 – in effect December 12, 2013
Bill No. 19, allows the Labour Board to impose a first agreement, but only after the Labour Board finds that one of the bargaining parties is not using best efforts to reach a collective agreement. Automatic access to first contract arbitration that existed under the previous legislation was removed.
The amendments allow the parties more time to negotiate before access to the first contract arbitration process can be triggered. This was accomplished by removing provisions setting time limits on how soon a conciliation officer may notify the Board that the parties have reached an impasse and in the Board’s ability to return the parties to conciliation after an application is made. With the new amendments, a conciliator must determine that the parties have reached an impasse before the matter can be placed before the Labour Board. The Board will now be required to decide whether there has been conduct that has led to unsuccessful bargaining and only if such improper conduct is found will there be first contract arbitration. The Labour Board will essentially only be involved in situations where it determines that one of the bargaining parties is impeding the bargaining process.
In order to move to first contract arbitration (without agreement) under the new rules, one of the parties will be required to show that:
- The other has refused to recognize its bargaining authority.
- The other has adopted an unreasonable position.
- The other has failed to make reasonable or timely efforts to reach a contract.
- Any other bargaining element that the Labour Board deems relevant.
If the Labour Board finds that the parties are not using best efforts to bargain, it has the authority to direct that they return to conciliation or appoint an arbitrator. If the parties do not wish to have an arbitrator appointed, they can request that the Board settle the matter. Such requests must be made within seven days of the direction of the Board. While this avoids the expense of going to arbitration (an expense shared equally by the parties), it still leaves employers in the position of having an outside party determine terms and conditions of employment. If one of the parties requests the Board determine the matter, the hearing must commence within 21 days of the request. The Board must release a decision within 45 days of commencement of the hearing.
If the Board orders that the parties return to conciliation, they will have an additional 30 days within which to reach an agreement. If they are not able to reach an agreement within this 30 day period, the Board will direct settlement by arbitration and an arbitrator will be appointed.
There can be no strike or lockout after a party applies to the Board or the Board has provided direction to return to conciliation.
Occupational Health and Safety Act, SNS 1996, c. 7 – effective on a future date by proclamation
The amendment deals with Occupational Health and Safety Appeals from Administrative Orders as follows:
Any order, notice or other document required under the Act or regulations:
- Sent by regular mail is deemed to have been received 10 days after the day on which it was mailed, unless the person contesting receipt is able to establish that he or she, acting in good faith, did not receive the order, notice or other document until a later date through absence, incident, illness or other cause beyond that person’s control.
- Must be served by (a) personal service; (b) a form of delivery that provides proof of delivery; (c) electronic transmission and service is deemed as follows:
- An order, notice or other document served by a form of delivery that provides proof of delivery is deemed received five days after the date of the first attempted delivery, unless the person being served establishes that, acting in good faith, the person did not receive until a later date, through absence, incident, illness or other cause beyond the person’s control.
- An order, notice or other document served by electronic transmission and service (fax or email) is deemed received the next day after it was sent or, where that day is a Saturday or a holiday, on the next day that is not a Saturday or a holiday, unless the person establishes in good faith, that he or she did not receive the order, notice or other document until a later date, through absence, incident, illness or other cause beyond the person’s control.
The amendment removes an intermediate stage of appeal to the Executive Director and replaces it with authority for the Executive Director, subject to the regulations, on the Executive Director’s own motion, to review an order or decision of an officer, vary, revoke or suspend the order or decision or to make any order or decision that the officer could have made. The amendment clarifies that the Executive Director’s standing as a party is limited to cases appealed to the Board pursuant to the Act.
The Chair of the Labour Board, under the amendment, has the power to determine whether the Board hears an appeal as a one or three person panel.
The amendments allows for consolidation of appeals that a person might have before the Board.
The amendments include a transition period for appeals initiated before the amendment is proclaimed, namely; that if an appeal is already initiated, or within an appeal period not expired before the amendment is proclaimed, it must be determined under the Act as it read immediately before the new amendment comes into force.
Bill No. 15 – February Holiday Act – in effect January 1, 2015
This legislation amends the Interpretation Act, the Labour Standards Code, the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act and the Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act to provide for a holiday falling on the third Monday in February commencing January 1, 2015.
Labour Standards Code Regulations, NS Reg 29/2013 and NS Reg 30/2013
Amendments to the General Labour Standards Code Regulations can be broken down into Schedule “A”, which came into effect on February 1, 2013, and Schedule “B”, which came into effect on May 1, 2013. The focus of the amendments is largely on foreign labour policy, in particular, the inclusion of the definition of “family member” for the purpose of exemption from licensing, and new regulations surrounding the qualifications and application for foreign worker recruitment licenses. More details on these regulations is available on our blog at New Rules for Foreign Worker Recruitment in Nova Scotia come into effect on May 1, 2013. In September, 2013, the government put into place new regulations changing licensing requirements under the Codesaying that recruiters do not require a license to engage in certain types of foreign worker recruitment activities. More on these changes can be found in our blog Nova Scotia’s Foreign Worker Rules Amended: Licensing and Registration Requirements.
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, N.S. Reg. 52/2013, N.S. Reg. 53/2013 – in effect June 12, 2013
Several amendments to the regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act were recently introduced. The changes include the following:
- The Fall Protection and Scaffolding Regulations and Temporary Workplace Traffic Control Regulations were repealed and new regulations put into place called: Workplace Health and Safety Regulations.
- Amendments were also made to the Occupational Safety General Regulations to assist in general clarity, and in instances, compliance with the new Workplace Health and Safety Regulations. These changes include:
- An update to certain definitions.
- Section 6 now ensures that any reference to an adopted standard is the most current version of that standard.
- Section 141 brings “Stairways” into compliance with the building code.
- Section 179 adopts standards for high visibility clothing.
- The Blasting Safety Regulations are also amended to make them consistent with the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations.
4. PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Prince Edward Island amended its Occupational Health and Safety Act to extend the prosecution timeline to two years.
Occupational Health and Safety Act, RSPEI 1988, c O-1.01 – in effect May 8, 2013
The Act was amended by Bill 29, An Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, adding a new provision extending the period in which a prosecution may be commenced to two years (whichever is later):
- From the date of an offence is alleged to have been committed.
- From the date on which an officer becomes aware of an accident.
The intention of the amendment is to allow a longer period of time to investigate complex occupational health and safety matters.
Human Rights Act, RSPEI 1988, c H-12 – in effect
The Act was amended by Bill 11, An Act to Amend the Human Rights Act, with changes that include adding “gender expression” and “gender identity” as new protected grounds of discrimination. This change sends a clear message that transgender, transsexual, intersex persons, cross-dressers, and others who in other ways express gender different than their birth sex are afforded protection under the Act. Royal assent was granted on December 6, 2013.
Workers Compensation Act , RSPEI 1988, c W-7.1 – in effect January 1, 2014
The Act was amended by Bill 23, An Act to Amend the Workers Compensation Act, adding and changing several provisions.
Prior to this Bill, no dependent, other than a spouse or a child of a deceased worker, was entitled to compensation unless no compensation was payable under the provision to the spouse or a child. This limitation was removed by this amendment.
There has been an addition to the Act dealing with wage loss benefits that are payable to a worker who is injured in an accident occurring on or after January 1, 2014, that results in a loss of earning capacity. This addition increases the amount payable to a worker in respect of such an accident for the first 39 weeks from 80 per cent to 85 per cent of the worker’s loss of earning capacity. The wage loss benefits, however, shall not exceed 85 per cent of the net maximum annual earnings.
This Bill established the date and amount of the annual adjustments for: wage loss benefits payable as extended earnings loss; compensation for workers receiving extended wage loss benefits; compensation for workers who were advised of entitlement to compensation on a long-term wage loss benefit basis; and workers receiving partial or total disability pensions. All beginning on July 1, 2014, the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) will increase from 75 per cent to 80 per cent so that benefits will be adjusted by 80 per cent of the CPI or 4 per cent whichever is lesser.
Another addition to the Act is a provision permitting the Board to provide funding assistance, subject to any terms and conditions it considers appropriate, to employer associations for the purpose of promotion of education and training in accident prevention. Royal Assent was granted on December 6, 2013 and the Bill comes into effect on January 1, 2014 with the exception of the changes allowing for funding to employers organizations that come into force on a date to be set by proclamation.
Civil Service Superannuation Act, RSPEI 1988, c W-7.1 – in effect January 1, 2014
The Act was amended by Bill 25, An Act to Amend the Civil Service Superannuation Act, adding and changing several provisions.
The changes to this Act mean that Civil Service Superannuation Fund (“CSSF”) retirees, who currently receive an increase in their pension every year based on the CPI, will only receive this CPI increase in years when the fund has the ability to pay it. In practice, this would be when the fund is at least 110 per cent funded. The Government estimates this would allow for indexing every four out of five years.
This amendment also aims to reduce the amount of pension people are eligible for when they retire. Prior to this change, the pension of a CSSF retiree was based on an average of the employee’s best three salary years. Now, this has been changed to reflect a career average, which would start at the beginning of a person’s career, when they were earning less. The purpose of this is to lower the employee’s average salary. Royal Assent was granted on December 6, 2013.
The foregoing is intended for general information only. If you have any questions, or for a detailed list and background please view our Labour & Employment practice group.
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