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Monthly Archives: October 2018

The Cannabis Act is Now in Effect: What You Need to Know

While the medicinal use of marijuana has been permissible in Canada for some time, the Cannabis Act legalized the drug for recreational use nationwide as of Oct. 17, 2018. Also known as Bill C-45, this federal law is designed to establish a regulatory framework, particularly as it relates to the production, distribution, sale, cultivation and possession of cannabis across Canada.

Cannabis Act Items of Note

The following are some of the major items of note regarding the Cannabis Act:

  • Usage and growing limits—Those who are 18 years of age or older will be allowed to buy and grow a limited quantity of marijuana for personal use. Specifically, those of age can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public, share up to 30 grams of dried marijuana with other adults, and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer.
  • Criminal offences—The Cannabis Act will ticket individuals who exceed possession limits, enforce up to 14 years in jail for an illegal distribution or sale, and impose tough new penalties of up to 14 years in jail for those that give or sell marijuana to minors.
  • Provincial involvement—Under the Cannabis Act, the provinces and territories will authorize and oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis, which will be subject to minimum federal requirements. In areas where there is no regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from a federally licensed producer via secure home delivery.

Recommendations for Employers

While it is uncertain how much the legalization of recreational marijuana will impact the workplace, it will likely have a direct effect on workplace health and safety, the use of motor vehicles for work purposes, the scope and type of disciplinary procedures, work performance and work attendance.

To appropriately respond to the Cannabis Act, employers should consider doing the following:

  1. Review and understand cannabis legislation and guidelines that apply to the provinces in which they operate.
  2. Review and amend existing workplace policies and procedures as needed. Provide copies of these policies to all employees.
  3. Conduct a hazard and job-safety assessment.
  4. Hold training sessions for all employees and managers.
  5. Train management on how to identify signs of impairment and how to respond appropriately.

Addressing substance use and impairment in the workplace is a complex process. Employers are expected to establish policies and procedures for managing impairment and to do so in a confidential and empathic manner. In addition, if accommodations are necessary, employers must work alongside employees and medical professionals to ensure a collaborative, safe and healthy workplace.

This is a lot of responsibility, and it can be difficult to know where to turn to for supplemental information and assistance. In addition to seeking the advice of qualified legal professionals, your insurance broker can be an invaluable resource. Contact your insurance broker today to learn more.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Ontario Looks to Undo Recent Changes to Workplace Laws


On Nov. 22, 2017, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Bill 148). Bill 148 made significant amendments to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA). Among other changes, Bill 148 raised the minimum wage, mandated equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees, and expanded job-protected leaves for employees throughout the province.

However, on Oct. 23, 2018, the Ontario government—under a new regime—introduced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018 (Bill 47), which would repeal many of the changes established by Bill 148. The government hopes that, by removing certain statutory obligations of Bill 148, Bill 47 will reduce the burden on employers and bring jobs back to Ontario.

Amendments Proposed by Bill 47

If passed, Bill 47 will enact the following changes to the ESA and LRA, undoing much of Bill 148:


  • Minimum wage—Minimum wage will remain at $14.00 per hour, at least until October 2020. From there, any increases will be tied to inflation.
  • Scheduling—Bill 47 would repeal most of the scheduling provisions found in Bill 148 that were planned to come into force Jan. 1, 2019. Specifically, Bill 47 would repeal the right:
    • To request changes to schedules or work locations after an employee has been employed for at least three months
    • To receive a minimum of three hours’ pay for being on-call, particularly if the employee is available to work but is not called in to work
    • To refuse requests or demands to work or to be on-call, specifically on days an employee is not scheduled to work or to be on-call with less than 96 hours’ notice
    • To receive three hours’ pay if a scheduled shift or an on-call shift is cancelled within 48 hours before the shift was to begin
  • Personal emergency leave—Bill 47 would replace current personal emergency leave entitlements with a package of eight unpaid annual leave days. These days are broken down as follows:
    • Three unpaid days for personal illness
    • Two unpaid bereavement leave days
    • Three unpaid days for family responsibilities
  • Misclassification—Under Bill 148, a reverse onus was placed on employers during disputes over employment classification. This meant that it was up to employers to prove whether an individual was an employee or an independent contractor during any given dispute. Bill 47 would eliminate that onus for employers, instead shifting the burden of proof to the individual.
  • Equal pay for equal work—Bill 47 would eliminate the equal pay provisions of the ESA that give part-time, casual, temporary and assignment employee status workers (temporary help agency status) the same entitlements as full-time, permanent workers. This would effectively remove the definition of “difference in employment status” from the ESA.
  • Penalties for contravention—Bill 47 would reduce maximum administrative penalties for violations of the ESA from $350/$700/$1,500 to $250/$500/$1,000, respectively.


  • Card-based certification—Bill 47 would give workers the right to vote via a secret ballot by repealing card-based certification on workers in home care, building services and temporary help agencies.
  • Employee lists—Bill 47 would repeal rules that require employers to share their employees’ personal information to unions.
  • Remedial certification—Bill 47 would reinstate pre-Bill 148 test and preconditions for the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to certify a union as remedy for employer misconduct. The OLRB would also be required to determine whether a vote or new vote would be a sufficient remedy, or whether certification of the union would be the only sufficient remedy.
  • Successor rights—Under Bill 47 changes, successor rights in contract tendering for publicly funded services would no longer apply.
  • Structure of bargaining units—Bill 47 would repeal the power of the OLRB to review and consolidate newly certified bargaining units with existing bargaining units. Under the new rules, the OLRB would instead be empowered to review the structure of bargaining units where the existing bargaining units are no longer appropriate for collective bargaining.
  • Return-to-work rights—Bill 47 would change return-to-work rights back to what they were prior to Bill 148. Specifically, an employee’s right to reinstatement following the start of a strike or lockout would be reduced to six months.
  • First collective agreements/mediation and mediation-arbitration—The mediation, mediation-arbitration and educational-support provisions relating to first collective agreements would be repealed under Bill 47. Instead, pre-Bill 148 conditions related to the access of first agreement arbitration would be implemented.
  • Fines—Bill 47 would reinstate previous maximum fines for offences under the LRA. As a result, fines would decrease from $5,000 to $2,000 for individuals and $100,000 to $25,000 for organizations.

What this Means for Employers

For the time being, employers should wait to update their policies and practices to reflect the changes proposed by Bill 47. Even if Bill 47 comes into force, employers are advised to seek the help of legal counsel before altering workplace practices.

To read the proposed changes in full, click here.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Choosing the Right Type of Cyber Testing for Your Business

Taking the initiative to invest in cyber security and improve employee security awareness is vital for defending a business from cyber attacks. However, it may be necessary for businesses to re-evaluate their efforts on occasion to make sure their security measures are effective. Vulnerability scans, penetration testing and red team exercises are three types of tests that businesses can use to assess their cyber security.

Vulnerability Scans

Vulnerability scans and assessments use automated tools to identify cyber weaknesses. They’re typically used to find known or common vulnerabilities, such as those used in past breaches and those that provide paths of least resistance for attackers trying to enter the network. Vulnerability scans are most useful for small and mid-sized organizations with limited cyber security resources.

Penetration Tests

Penetration tests are simulated attacks that use information acquired from vulnerability scans in an effort to access or penetrate the enterprise network. When a penetration test occurs, enterprises and security professionals may or may not know of the test in advance. Penetration tests can be performed by internal staff or external vendors. They’re most beneficial for organizations of medium maturity looking to uncover gaps in security.

Red Team Exercises

When using a red team to assess security, employees assume the exercise is a real-life situation and do not know about it in advance. Red team exercises help organizations gauge realistic responses to attempted attacks by mimicking attackers and attempting to break into the organization in any way possible. Mature organizations with specialized cyber security skills would benefit most from red team exercises, which can uncover security gaps both inside and outside of the network. Red team exercises can be conducted by internal staff or by external vendors.

Once an organization identifies which type of testing is appropriate, it should also assess the frequency of the testing. Ultimately, every new or updated technology should be subjected to thorough testing to detect and address new vulnerabilities before outside attackers find them.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Online Tool Measures Stress Levels in a Workplace

In partnership with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers have created an online survey tool to help companies measure workplace stress levels. The free tool, StressAssess, allows workplaces to anonymously gather key information about work conditions and psychosocial hazards.

StressAssess guides administrators through a five-step process via instructions, templates and reminders. After employers complete the survey, a summary report is generated, which provides comparisons against validated national averages and practical ideas to help workplaces address identified concerns.

Managing workplace stress is important, as it goes a long way toward creating a healthy and happy workforce. Common job stressors include a heavy workload, intense pressure to perform at high levels, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel, office politics and conflicts with co-workers. While dealing with stress is a normal part of everyday life, the following are some adverse symptoms employees can experience as a result of recurring workplace stress:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Low morale
  • Short tempers
  • Headaches
  • Stomach or back problems

To protect your workers, consider using StressAssess to learn a number of useful methods for reducing workplace stressors. While the survey tool is meant to diagnose workplace factors, the website also includes a personal edition for individuals interested in measuring their own level and sources of stress.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved



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