Legislative Roundup

Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada

British Columbia

Government reviewing minimum wage rates

The British Columbia government is considering raising provincial minimum wage rates to a higher level than planned.

It is considering higher minimum wage rates because the province’s economy is doing so well.

"The province is reviewing the minimum wage increase to keep it in line with overall economic growth," said Shirley Bond, the minister responsible for labour issues.

"Given our stronger economic growth, we feel there should be room for a modest incremental adjustment beyond B.C.’s CPI so that all workers can benefit from our success."

Last year, Bond announced that in 2016 the government would begin indexing the province’s minimum wage rates using increases in the consumer price index (CPI) for British Columbia for the previous year (rounded to the nearest nickel). Wage rate changes would take effect Sept. 15, with the government giving employers six months’ notice of the new rates.

"The scheduled increase, based on this year’s B.C. CPI, does not reflect the economic circumstances of the province," she said in a news release.

This year’s provincial budget noted that the B.C. economy is expected to grow by 2.7 per cent this year, well ahead of the national average of 1.8 per cent.

Bond said she expects to announce minimum wage changes this spring. She added that the new rates would take effect Sept. 15 as planned.

The general minimum wage rate in the province is currently $10.45 an hour. The minimum wage rate for liquor servers is $9.20 per hour.

New Brunswick

Government proposes ESA amendments

The provincial government is proposing to make amendments to the province’s employment standards law that would affect employee pay statements, payroll records and compassionate care leave.

Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister, Francine Landry, tabled Bill 30, called An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, in the provincial legislature on March 29.

At publication time, the bill was still before the legislature.

The bill would amend the Employment Standards Act to specify that employers may only provide employees with electronic pay statements if the employees have a way to make a paper copy of them. The proposed amendment would apply in addition to current provisions in the act that require employers that want to use electronic pay statements to provide employees with confidential access to them in the workplace.

The bill would also amend record-keeping standards to specify that employers must retain records on the date an employee’s employment ends.

In addition, it would increase the number of weeks that an employee may take for a compassionate care leave from eight to 28. The bill would also extend the period within which employees may take the leave from 26 weeks to 28 weeks.

The amendments affecting pay statements and records would come into force on Jan. 1, 2017. The compassionate care leave changes would take effect once the bill receives royal assent.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Government to review minimum wage

The Newfoundland and Labrador government says it plans to review the province’s minimum wage rate this year.

In its Throne Speech to open the first session of the 48th General Assembly in early March, the government said it would consult with labour organizations and employers to establish a minimum wage formula that reflects changes to the cost of living in the province.

The current minimum wage rate in Newfoundland and Labrador is $10.50 an hour.

This is not the first time cost-of-living changes have been proposed in Newfoundland and Labrador. In recent years, a number of provincial governments have revised their minimum wage calculations to include cost-of-living changes.

Ontario

Private members’ bills propose leave changes

A private member’s bill before the Ontario Legislature would allow employees to take a job-protected leave from work if they or their child experiences domestic or sexual violence.

The proposals are part of Bill 177, the Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016, which NDP MPP Peggy Sattler tabled in the legislature on March 8.

Private member’s bills are tabled by MPPs who are not cabinet ministers.

The bill has passed second reading and has been referred to a legislative committee for further study.

While it is not common for private member’s bills to become law, sometimes they pass all stages of the legislative process and are enacted. The bill does not specify how long a leave for domestic or sexual violence would last. Instead, it proposes that an employee be allowed to take a leave for "a reasonable time" or for a period that would be set out in regulations under the act.

The bill also proposes that the leave only be allowed for certain purposes, such as seeing a doctor, going to a victim services’ organization or meeting with a lawyer.

 The bill would require employers to pay employees for up to 10 days of the leave each calendar year. The pay would have to equal their regular wages for the days missed. If the employee did not have regular work hours, the employer would have to pay the employee the total amount of regular wages earned and vacation pay payable in the four weeks before the leave began, divided by 20. The employer would also be required to provide the employee with reasonable accommodation for the employee’s work hours and work location, unless it caused the employer undue hardship.

Another private member’s bill proposes to allow employees to take a job-protected leave of absence if their child (under 18 years old) dies. NDP MPP Peter Tabuns tabled Bill 175, Jonathan’s Law (Employee Leave of Absence When Child Dies), 2016, in the legislature on March 8.

At publication time, it had not progressed beyond first reading. The proposed leave of absence would be unpaid and would last for up to 52 weeks. Employees would have to be employed by their employer for at least six consecutive months to be eligible.

Prince Edward Island

Reminder: Minimum wage rate going up

The Prince Edward Island government will increase the province’s minimum wage rate on June 1 from $10.50 per hour to $10.75.

The government will raise the rate again on Oct. 1 to $11 an hour.

Quebec

Reminder: Minimum wage rates increased May 1

Minimum wage rates in the province went up on May 1.

The general minimum wage rate increased from $10.55 an hour to $10.75.

This rate also applies to employees in certain sectors of the clothing industry.

The rate for employees who receive tips rose from $9.05 an hour to $9.20.

The minimum wage rate for raspberry pickers increased from $3.12 per kilogram to $3.18.

The rate for workers who pick strawberries rose from 83 cents a kilogram to 85 cents.

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