Several new HR laws for Ontario and
Alberta are now in effect

January 1, 2018 was a significant day for both Ontario and Alberta, as many new employment and labour law requirements came into force for both provinces. (Learn more about the new and revised employment and labour laws for Alberta and Ontario.)

Nearly all of the amendments in Alberta’s Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act (Bill 17) are now in force, with some provisions coming into effect May 1, 2018. These are the most significant changes the province has seen to its Labour Relations Code and Employment Standards Code in over 30 years.

For Ontario, January 1, 2018 saw the first significant set of changes to both the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act come into force due to the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148). Additional changes came into effect late in 2017 and others will come into effect in April later this year and on January 1, 2019.

Employers in both provinces are currently reviewing and updating around 30 HR policies to be compliant, and we can help. We've updated our sample policies with the recent changes in the electronic versions of Human Resources PolicyPro® so that you can meet the new legal requirements in either province faster and easier.

We are continuing the updates to the Ontario Edition Alberta Edition, as new guidelines, regulations and ministry of labour interpretation is developed and made available. Also, changes to the Ontario and Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act coming into effect in 2018 will bring about a new set of reviews of health and safety policies.


Legislative changes across Canada to watch for in 2018

The employment and labour law reforms seen in Alberta and Ontario are just the beginning of what will be a historic year of legislative changes for employers all across the country.

Here are just a few major items employers should keep an eye out for in 2018:

1. Marijuana legalization in Canada

With Bill C-45, The Cannabis Act, passing third reading in the House of Commons in December, the legalization of marijuana in Canada is currently scheduled to come into force on July 1, 2018, but may become effective before then.

Employers will need to review and update some of their HR policies, procedures and practices, especially those that cover health and safety and human rights, to address recreational marijuana in the workplace. For example, to remove marijuana (cannabis) from the list of illegal substances or drugs. Also if current policies set expectations, control workplace use of marijuana, provide a basis for disciplining employees, and help your organization comply with its legal obligations.

2. New accessibility standards for Manitoba and Nova Scotia

In 2017, Nova Scotia became the third province in Canada to pass accessibility legislation. The province is working with stakeholders to establish six accessibility standards in the areas of goods and services, information and communication, public transportation and transportation infrastructure, employment, education, and the built environment. Nova Scotia aims to achieve accessibility in the whole province by 2030. We will provide updates on HRinfodesk once the standards are drafted and ready for public consultation.

In Manitoba, the private sector, small municipalities and non-profit organizations will be required to comply with the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service by November 1, 2018, the first enacted standard of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act. The public sector was required to comply on November 1, 2017.

3. Major reforms to Employment Standards in New Brunswick and British Columbia on the horizon

On January 22, 2018, the New Brunswick government announced proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act that would allow among other changes (similar to what came into effect in Ontario and Alberta), for domestic violence leave, as well as provide job protection for people who leave work to care for a family member.

In British Columbia, the three-year review of the Employment Standards Act, 1973 is reaching its conclusion. The province will soon be releasing a report of recommended changes for public feedback and—based on the recent employment and labour law reviews conducted in Alberta and Ontario—it's expected that a proposed bill based on the report's recommendations will swiftly materialize once the public review period has ended – possibly before the end of 2018.

As new legislation is enacted in any province, we'll continue to update Human Resources PolicyPro and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro so that you can ensure your policies are always up to date.

In the meantime, you can keep up with the latest employment law news for every jurisdiction of Canada on If you’re not a subscriber, find out how you can obtain a free 8-issue trial here.


Save the date | Ontario Employment Law Conference
Learn The Latest at this year's conference

The 19th Annual Ontario Employment Law Conference will be taking place at Corporate Event Centre at CHSI in Mississauga on June 12, 2018.

Join First Reference and the experts from Stringer LLP as we Learn The Latest in employment and labour law. With the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act (Bill 148) now in force, we will delve into how the statutory leaves are put into practice (for example, what is reasonable evidence when employees take personal emergency leave and, if I provide a greater benefit, can I ask for a doctor’s note?) and much more.

Registration will be available soon, so be sure to check for conference details coming in the next few weeks.


Investment management for charities

We recently added sample policy 4.07 – Investment Management to Not-for-Profit PolicyPro® to help organizations manage investments effectively and in compliance with the applicable laws.

Provinces and territories each have their own respective trust legislation with investment provisions to which charities must adhere. These provisions address several issues, including:

  • Authorized investments
  • Standards that directors, officers and trustees of charities must meet with respect to investments
  • The delegation of responsibility for investments
  • Factors trustees must consider when making investment decisions

What are you required to post in your workplace?
refer to The Human Resources Advisor for details on what needs to be up in your workplace

All employers are required to display posters and other documents in the workplace under employment standards, health and safety regulations, human rights legislation and accessibility laws. You likely already understand the need for these postings, but you might be surprised to learn just how many of these documents there are!

The Human Resources Advisor™ contains quick reference charts to indicate which postings are required in each jurisdiction and provides links to printable versions of these documents. Subscribers can access these charts by clicking on the links below:

Atlantic Edition | Ontario Edition | Western Edition

Required postings compliance checklist

For Ontario employers, we recently created a free compliance checklist that highlights the most important required postings you need to display in your workplace—including the latest version of the Employment Standards in Ontario poster (you can download the checklist here).


Year in review: The 10 most popular posts of 2017 on First Reference Talks

Revisit some of the most important topics of 2017 on our HR management and employment and labour law blog First Reference Talks. See what grabbed our readers’ attention last year here.



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