News in Brief

Proposed class action focuses on vacation and public holiday pay | B.C. launches review of workers’ comp | CRA consulting on service improvements

Proposed class action focuses on vacation, public holiday pay

TORONTO  — A law firm has filed for certification of an $80-million class action lawsuit against RBC and Aviva insurance companies, alleging that their vacation and public holiday pay calculations for commissioned employees violate employment standards rules.

Monkhouse Law filed the claim in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in April on behalf of proposed representative plaintiff Kabir Singh, who worked as an insurance advisor at the companies from 2016 to 2019.

The law firm said it was the first class action for underpaying vacation and public holiday pay to be filed in Canada.

The statement of claim alleges that RBC Insurance and Aviva General Insurance failed to properly pay commissioned salespeople vacation pay and public holiday pay because they calculated the payments solely on the employees’ base pay rather than on their total compensation, including commissions.

The allegations in the statement of claim must still be proven in court.

The lawsuit seeks to have the class action apply from 1993, when RBC Insurance was founded. Aviva bought RBC Insurance in January 2016.

“Employers are required under Ontario law to pay their employees vacation pay fairly,” said Andrew Monkhouse, founder of Monkhouse Law.

“Those employers who do not pay adequate vacation pay may end up on the hook for substantial payments from the entire tenure of the employee.”

A spokesperson for Aviva said the company could not comment on the proposed lawsuit because it is before the courts.

B.C. launches review of workers’ compensation

VICTORIA  — The British Columbia government has appointed a retired labour lawyer to review the province’s workers’ compensation system.

In April, the Ministry of Labour announced that Janet Patterson would carry out a formal review of the system, including obtaining feedback from employers, labour organizations, and injured workers.

The ministry said the review would assess policies and practices that help injured workers return to work and examine ways to modernize WorkSafeBC’s culture to “reflect a worker-centric delivery model.”

It will also assess WorkSafeBC’s policies and practices through a gender- and diversity-based lens and examine the case management of injured workers.

Additionally, the review will identify potential amendments to the Workers Compensation Act, consider any steps needed to increase confidence in the system, and determine whether any other changes need to be made.

The ministry said Patterson would provide the government with a report on the review, including possible recommendations, by the end of September.

CRA consulting on service improvements

OTTAWA  The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has launched public consultations to find out what Canadians think of the agency.

The consultations began in late April and go until mid-June. They include online feedback, as well as invitation-only in-person sessions in cities across the country with representatives of vulnerable populations.

The CRA said an independent third party would run the in-person consultations, with CRA officials observing, to ensure that the agency receives unbiased input. 

It added that the consultations were part of the CRA’s ongoing efforts to improve the experience individuals have when dealing with the agency. Through the feedback, the CRA said it hopes to find out what it is doing well, where it could improve, and how it can tell if any changes it implements make a difference.

“In recent years, we have made important changes to our service experience. We have been listening to Canadians and we know that we can do even better,” said Mireille Laroche, the CRA’s chief service officer.

“The way organizations deliver services keeps evolving and Canadians expect us to keep up. We are proud of the progress we’ve made, and we look forward to hearing what other steps people would like us to take,” she said.

The CRA said the consultations would supplement input it already receives through call centres, public opinion research projects, consultations and social media.

The agency has committed to publishing the online results as soon as they are available. It said the results of the in-person consultations would be published as sessions end, with a final report expected in the fall.

B.C. minimum wage jumps to $13.85

VICTORIA — On June 1, the British Columbia government raised the province’s general minimum wage rate from $12.65 an hour to $13.85.

The increase is part of its plan to gradually raise B.C.’s minimum wage to $15.20 by 2021. The rate is scheduled to rise to $14.60 on June 1, 2020, and to $15.20 on June 1, 2021.

The government is also gradually eliminating a liquor server minimum wage rate.

It increased the rate from $11.40 an hour to $12.70 on June 1. It will raise it to $13.95 on June 1, 2020. As of June 1, 2021, employers will have to pay liquor servers at least the general minimum wage rate.

Other minimum wage rates also went up on June 1. The rate for live-in camp leaders rose from $101.24 per day or partial day worked to $110.87. The rate will increase to $116.86 on June 1, 2020, and to $121.65 on June 1, 2021.

The minimum rate paid to resident caretakers working in apartment buildings with nine to 60 suites rose to $831.45 per month plus $33.32 per suite on June 1. Previously, it was $759.32 plus $30.43 for each suite.

The government will increase the rate to $876.35 per month plus $35.12 per suite on June 1, 2020, and to $912.28 per month plus $35.56 per suite on June 1, 2021.

For resident caretakers working in apartment buildings with more than 60 suites, the rate increased from $2,586.40 per month to $2,832.11 on June 1. It will increase to $2,985.04 on June 1, 2020 and to $3,107.42 on June 1, 2021.

On Jan. 1, the government raised the minimum piece rates for farm workers who hand-harvest crops.

Most organizations unprepared for cyberattack: Survey

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.  — Most organizations are unprepared to properly respond to cybersecurity incidents, according to a recent survey.

The survey, conducted by the Ponemon Institute for IBM Security, found that 77 per cent of organizations polled did not have a cybersecurity incident response plan that they applied consistently across the enterprise.

The results are based on a survey of more than 3,600 security and IT professionals around the world, including Canada. It is the fourth annual survey IBM has done on cyberresilience, which it defines as an organization’s ability to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of cyberattacks.

IBM said even though studies show that companies that respond quickly and efficiently to contain a cyberattack within 30 days save an average of over $1 million on the cost of a data breach, shortfalls in proper cybersecurity incident response planning have remained consistent over the past four years.

Of the organizations surveyed that did have a plan, 54 per cent said they did not test it regularly, which could leave them less prepared to deal with an attack, the survey said.

“Failing to plan is a plan to fail when it comes to responding to a cybersecurity incident,” said Ted Julian, vice-president of product management at IBM.

“These plans need to be stress tested regularly and need full support from the board to invest in the necessary people, processes and technologies to sustain such a program,” he said.

“When proper planning is paired with investments in automation, we see companies able to save millions of dollars during a breach.”

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