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Courts will not enforce fines that unions impose on members who cross picket lines

Jurisdiction: - Alberta - Ontario - Saskatchewan

By dismissing two leave to appeal applications on May 7, 2009 - one from Ontario and the other from Alberta - the Supreme Court of Canada has stipulated that the courts in Canada (save for in Saskatchewan) will not enforce fines that unions impose on their members who cross legal picket lines.

In the Ontario case  - Union of Taxation Employees Local 70030 v. Jeffrey Birch et al. - the employees worked for Canada Revenue Agency and were members of the Union of Taxation Employees Local 70030, a component of the Public Sector Alliance of Canada.

During a legal strike in 2004, the employees crossed the picket law on three days so that they could continue to work. Pursuant to the provisions in its constitution and by-laws, the union suspended the employees' union memberships for three years and also fined them each $476, which was equivalent to the total of the employees' gross salary for the three days.

The employees refused to pay their fines, resulting in the union filing a lawsuit against them in Small Claims Court.  The case was subsequently elevated to the Ontario Superior Court as a test case.  read more »

"Fiduciary Duties: Obligations of Departing Employees"

Jurisdiction: - Alberta

Tina Giesbrecht, a lawyer at McCarthy Tetrault LLP in Calgary, has written a paper on, "Fiduciary Duties: Obligations of Departing Employees" (March 2009). The paper was prepared for the Legal Education Society of Alberta. 

British Columbia's unemployment rate increases to 6.7 percent

Topics: - Workforce Trends
Jurisdiction: - Alberta - British Columbia - Ontario - Quebec

British Columbia's unemployment rate increased to 6.7 percent in February, according to the Statistics Canada "Labour Force Survey" that was released today. This is up from 6.1 percent in January 2009.

Nationally, the unemployment rate rose to 7.7 percent in February, up 0.5 percent from January. The largest decline in employment occurred in Ontario (-35,000), followed by Alberta (-24,000) and Quebec (-18,000).

A decrease of 43,000 in construction positions accounted for over half of the employment decline in February. The only industries with gains were manufacturing and agriculture.

This Canadian Press story today lists some of the specific layoffs that have been announced in Canada in 2009. Among them are Howe Sound Pulp and Paper's announcement earlier ths week that it will be lay off 101 unionized positions at its operations on the Sunshine Coast. The employees are members of Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Local 1119.

Alberta's Minimum Wage to Increase on Apri 1, 2009

The Alberta government announced yesterday that the minimum wage in that province will increase to $8.80 effective April 1, 2009.

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, this will move Alberta into second place, at least temporarily, after Ontario.

Ontario's "General Minimum Wage" is currently $8.75, but it will increase to $9.50 effective March 31, 2009. One year later it will increase again to $10.25.

The article further notes that Alberta's minimum wage will soon be surpassed by Saskatchewan's (which increases to $9.25 on May 1, 2009), Quebec's (which increases to $9 on May 1, 2009) and Newfoundland's (which increases to $9 on July 1, 2009).

New Brunswick announced in Janaury 2009 that its minimum wage will increase from $7.75 to $8 effective April 15, 2009 and then to $8.25 on September 1, 2009

After that, British Columbia and PEI will be at the bottom at $8 an hour.

BC last increased its minimum wage on November 1, 2001.

Use of professional corporation did not result in employee becoming independent contractor

Jurisdiction: - Alberta

Therrien v. True North Properties Ltd., 2009 ABCA 44, upholding 2007 ABQB 312

“How Far is Too Far?” Termination and Accommodation of Disabled Employees"

Jurisdiction: - Alberta

Alberta lawyers Donald J. Wilson, Jonathan Cummings and Wendy-Anne Berkenbosch, of Davis LLP prepared/presented a paper on “How Far is Too Far?” Termination and Accommodation of Disabled Employees" for the CBA Pensions and Labour Joint Subsection Meeting on October 27, 2008.

The paper addresses the following topics:  read more »

"Executive Employment Terminations"

Jurisdiction: - Alberta

Lawyers Brian Thiessen and Scott Sweatman, at the Calgary office of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, have written a paper on "Executive Employment Terminations" (May 28, 2008). The paper focuses on issues pertaining to: (1) Stock Options; (2) Bonuses; and (3) Pension Entitlements.

"Drug Testing Policies – Developments from the Oil Patch"

Jurisdiction: - Alberta - Quebec
Sector: - Oil & Gas

The labour and employment lawyers at Bull Housser & Tupper in Vancouver have written a newsletter article on "Drug Testing Policies – Developments from the Oil Patch" (February 2008). The article reviews recent decisions of the Alberta Court of Appeal and the Quebec Court of Appeal.