Call to Learn How We Can Help 613-701-0898 | 866-252-0670
Vice & Hunter LLP

Ottawa Employment, Elder and Municipal Law Blog

Employee rights: Ontario Tories cancel number of labour reforms

The new provincial Conservative government has decided to cancel a number of labour reforms brought in by the previous government. Some Ontario labour groups are saying the reforms regarding employee rights are unfair to workers, mean-spirited and reckless. Among the decisions are a freeze of the minimum wage at $14 an hour for two years and axing the two paid sick days.

The minimum wage was supposed to jump to $15 an hour in January 2019, but will stay put until 2020, and likely won't reach $15 until 2024. Also, temp agency workers will still have a tough go of getting unionized since the government is also repealing measures making it easier for them to do do. Also on the chopping block is the protection afforded to workers who say no to a last minute shift without fear of punishment.

There are ways to prevent financial elder abuse in Ontario

Senior citizens are among the most vulnerable sectors of society. Elder abuse in any form is unconscionable, including trying to bilk seniors out of their hard-earned money. Ontario has laws in place to prevent this from happening, yet unfortunately, it still does.

Sadly, financial abuse of elders is often at the hands of those they love and trust the most -- family members. Seniors who suffer from dementia are particularly susceptible. For instance, an Ontario woman was recently convicted of fraud after cleaning out her mother's bank account. Her mother has Alzheimer's disease. Elders very often also fall for scams which are initiated over the telephone or the internet, and because of embarrassment, many seniors don't report these types of abuses.

Elder law: Employers can't force seniors off the job in Ontario

Many people are capable of working well into their senior years. Elder law in Ontario -- as in many places in Canada -- has done away with a mandatory retirement age. In fact, it has been construed as being discriminatory. A law has been in place safeguarding seniors from this type of discrimination since 2012, and it is against the Human Rights Act.

The law under which seniors are protected is the Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act under the Canada Labour Code. The law stipulates that if employees are let go from a job they are willing to continue, they would be eligible to receive termination pay no matter what their age. This is also the case whether or not they are eligible to receive a pension.

Employee rights: Premier says sick says shouldn't be paid

Doug Ford says employers can't afford to pay employees for sick days. Critics say the Ontario Premier is treading on employee rights and workplace protections. Ford is aiming to blackball the former Liberal government's Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act which would hike the minimum wage to $15 come this Jan. 1 and would make employers pay employees for two emergency leave days each year. Ford called the act worse than carbon tax.

Figures from Statistics Canada, however, show that over the last year, employment in Ontario has increased by more than 1 per cent and total hours worked have also increased since the bill's enactment last January. But Andrea Horwath, leader of the NDP says Ontarians who are expecting the minimum wage to rise from $14 to $15 in January better be prepared for that not to happen. Both she and Liberal leader John Fraser say that the Tories are not acting in the best interests of Ontario workers.

Employee rights: Charity ordered to pay employee vacation pay

The registered charity, Outward Bound, has been bound by a Ministry of Labour decision to pay a former employee $500 vacation pay. The Ontario charity violated the former instructor's employee rights when the company failed to keep records of his work hours and neglected to give him vacation pay owed. The 31-year-old also lodged a complaint with the ministry, alleging the charity does not even pay minimum wage, pay for overtime or scheduled breaks.

The ministry, however, did not investigate those claims since the man accepted a $1,000 cheque from Outward Bound in compliance with Ontario's minimum wage law. The ministry would likely investigate the charity if it received another complaint from an employee. Outward Bound says it is in compliance with ministry employment standards.

Former talk show host sues for wrongful termination

Former Canadian talk show host Mark Steines is suing over being let go from his latest gig. The Ontario media personality has launched a law suit for wrongful termination from the talk show, Home & Family. He claims he was fired because he supported two females connected to the show after they claimed to be sexually harassed by the show's 82-year-old now former executive producer. 

Steines alleges the elderly producer regularly made disparaging remarks to cast and crew members. Steines' suit also suggests that the producer made comments that were sexually inappropriate regarding attractive female guests on the show and said he was appalled at the behaviour. In late May, the Hallmark Channel, which produces the show, said it had parted ways with Steines who had been the host since 2012.

Elder abuse: Ontario nursing home waits for assist order lift

An Ontario nursing home which has been operating with the help of a care group ordered by the provincial government, is waiting for the order to be lifted. Operations at Hogarth Riverview Manor in Thunder Bay, Ontario have been overseen by Extendicare Assist as per a directive coming down from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MHLTC) in November of last year. The 544-bed facility was in noncompliance of resident care, so the order was initiated in part to keep seniors safe from elder abuse.

The nursing home, under the umbrella of the St. Joseph's Care Group (SJCG), has been making improvements to its operations and adhering to the ministry's reporting practices, according to SJCG president She is not sure, however, when Extendicare Assist will be stepping away from helping the facility. Their involvement has become less prominent as Hogarth continues to adhere to MHLTC practices.

Elder abuse in Ontario: Senior monetary rip-offs on the rise

It used to be that the elderly were protected, but it's becoming more and more commonplace to hear of financial predators taking advantage of unsuspecting senior citizens. Financial elder abuse among the older set in Ontario is on the rise, and the internet has made it easier to prey upon those who are trusting. An American study conducted in 2014 showed that about 37 percent of seniors were defrauded financially, while a 2016 study put the figure at around $36,000 USD for each case.

Many of these cases actually involve unscrupulous financial brokers intent in maintaining seven-figure incomes and who resort to defrauding seniors to do so. It seems people try to take advantage of the elderly at every opportunity. A recent newspaper article told the story of a woman who moved her mom into an assisted living facility. The elderly woman had dementia, and she obviously didn't realize that her brokerage account -- worth more than $1 million -- was charged $128,000 in fees over the last 12 months. 

Does making a worker don risque garb violate employee rights?

Asking an employee to wear certain types of clothing on the job may be a big no-no. It could actually be infringing upon employee rights in Ontario. Some restaurant chains have been taken to task for allegedly making their female staff wear clothing that could be construed as being in violation of women's rights. Some women have been afraid to speak up, fearing they would lose their jobs if they did.

But more women are letting their displeasure over it be heard loud and clear. Some have stood up and called out their employers for insisting they wear clothes that they say make it difficult to do their jobs properly, are sexist and invite sexual harassment. These women say they don't want the unwanted attention wearing risque clothing often brings.

Employee rights: Worker gets thousands in wrongful dismissal case

A Canadian man was recently awarded $28,000 in damages in a wrongful dismissal case. The court didn't buy the assertion of the former safety manager's Alberta employer, who said the man quit or that there was just cause for firing him. Most employee rights in Canada are protected by employment laws of their province and territory, and it is mandatory that places of employment in Ontario and in the rest of the country place an Employment Standards Act poster where all employees can see it.

In this particular case, the court was presented with evidence in the form of an email from the employer to the employee that said for him not to come in and to consider the email as being his two-week notice. The court viewed this as a definite dismissal. The court also sided with the employee that he did complete what the employer asked of him, and even if he hadn't, it didn't look like the company suffered.