Newsletter by Michael J Weiler


Labour Code and E S Act Amendments

In our recent newsletter and blog posts we advised that the NDP/Green coalition government introduced significant amendments to the Labour Relations Code (“Bill 30”) and the Employment Standards Act (“Bill 8”):




On May 30th, 2019 Bill 30 as passed Third Reading, and Bill 8 as passed Third Reading, they were given royal assent and became law.

The legislation was passed with just two fairly minor changes 

Bill 30 was amended with respect to raids in the construction industry.  The original bill was going to allow unions to raid in the construction industry in July and August of each year of the collective agreement.  That was changed to only allow raids in the last year of the collective agreement consistent with other raid provisions.

Bill 8 was amended to provide for both domestic and sexual violence leaves of absences.

I was surprised to see that the legislation allowing successorship for contracted out services such as food was not amended.  As I noted that provision will hurt not only employers/owners who contract out work but also unionized service companies who now might find it more difficult to get new contracts. Recall that these particular amendments allowing successorship for contracted out services became effective retroactive to April 30, 2019, the date when Bill 30 was given First Reading in the Legislature.

It is my view that these amendments will have a major negative impact on businesses in BC—both union and nonunion.  Employers would be wise to review the legislation and determine how it might affect their operations.

Note that effective June 1st, 2019 the minimum wage increased to $13.85 and the minimum wage for liquor servers, resident caretakers and live-in camp leaders also increased.  Note also the trend in Ontario and now Alberta to reverse these types of changes.

WorkSafe changes will likely create further problems for employers 

Significant changes to the Workers Compensation Act and policies have already been implemented as a result of the extensive review undertaken by Paul Petrie who was appointed to conduct a review of WorkSafe’s Rehabilitation and Claims Services policies.  Mr. Petrie was directed to consider what changes needed to be made to provide a more worker-centred approach.  His report was published on April 25th, 2019 and contained 41 recommendations for change.  The title of the Report will give you some idea of the content:  “Restoring the Balance:  A Worker-Centred Approach to Workers’ Compensation Policy”.

The government has now appointed retired labour lawyer Janet Patterson to do a further study of the workers’ compensation system to advise on how “to shift the workers’ compensation system to become more worker-centred.”

The government web site goes on to note that the review by Ms. Patterson will assess:

  • the system’s policies and practices that support injured workers’ return to work;
  • WorkSafeBC’s current policies and practices through a gender- and diversity-based analysis (commonly referred to as GBA +);
  • modernization of WorkSafeBC’s culture to reflect a worker-centric service delivery model;
  • the case management of injured workers; and
  • any potential amendments to the Workers Compensation Act arising from this focused review.

You should read the Terms of Reference for this review.

The Review is due September 1st, 2019.  In my view, employers have reason to be concerned about the changes that will likely flow from the Patterson Report.  Employers can go to the Terms of Reference website and fill out the questionnaire and attend the public hearings to make sure their voices are heard.

Human Rights Commissioner appointed

In November 2018 the government amended the Human Rights Code.  Included in those amendments was the establishment of the position of Human Rights Commissioner.

On May 30th, 2019 the government announced that Kasari Govender was appointed Commissioner.  Ms. Govender is a practicing lawyer and serves as executive director of the non-profit organization West Coast LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund).

The Code sets out the powers of the Commissioner as follows:

Powers of commissioner

47.12(1) The commissioner is responsible for promoting and protecting human rights, including by doing any of the following:

(a) identifying, and promoting the elimination of, discriminatory practices, policies and programs;

(b) developing resources, policies and guidelines to prevent and eliminate discriminatory practices, policies and programs;

(c) publishing reports, making recommendations or using other means the commissioner considers appropriate to prevent or eliminate discriminatory practices, policies and programs;

(d) developing and delivering public information and education about human rights;

(e) undertaking, directing and supporting research respecting human rights;

(f) examining the human rights implications of any policy, program or legislation, and making recommendations respecting any policy, program or legislation that the commissioner considers may be inconsistent with this Code;

(g) consulting and cooperating with individuals and organizations in order to promote and protect human rights;

(h) establishing working groups for special assignments respecting human rights;

(i) promoting compliance with international human rights obligations;

(j) intervening in complaints under section 22.1 and in any proceeding in any court.

Have a happy and safe summer.