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The year 2017 is turning into a remarkable year for labour and employment laws.  This is because governments across the country are making significant changes to employment and labour legislation including changes at the federal level, Ontario, and Alberta.  These changes are focused on both expanding employee rights and ensuring a closer scrutiny of employers.

Ontario’s changes are to include the following:

  • Increases to the minimum wage rate
  • Increases in vacation allowance under the Employment Standards Act
  • Increases to leave provisions, including to Family Medical Leave
  • Tighter restrictions to the definition of an employee to include many individuals currently characterized as contractors

Alberta has also made many changes to its employment legislation including the following:

  • New categories of leaves including for long-term illness and corresponding increases to eligibility for leave
  • Expansion of rights associated with holiday and overtime pay, as well as an increase to the minimum wage rate
  • Modifications to labour laws to facilitate the unionization of workplaces
  • New penalties and audit procedures for workplaces

At the federal level, the changes are focused on changes to both the Canada Labour Code (employment standards) and Employment Insurance.  This includes the following:

  • Extended parental benefits
  • Extension to the period over which parental benefits can be paid
  • New caregiving benefit for family members caring for a critically ill adult or critically ill child
  • Expanded power to the Canada Industrial Relations Board and its officers

The changes show that governments across the country are focused on expanding employee rights.  This will no doubt have an impact on employers and their relationship with employees. More than ever, it’s important that companies and individuals know their rights so that they are in a position to ensure that their interests are protected.