Human Resources | Labour | Manitoba

Manitoba Government introduces several labour and employment related bills

October 19, 2020

The Manitoba Government introduced a number Bills in the Legislature on Oct 14, 2020 that would see amendments to existing Labour and Employment rules in the province.

As a member of the Manitoba Employers Council (MEC), Retail Council of Canada will work with a coalition of employers to provide general comment, as well as advocate for retail specific amendments should members have concerns with what are generally considered beneficial changes.

Of the 33 Bills tabled by the Government on Oct 14, retailers operating in Manitoba will be most interested in the following, summarized by MEC:

Bill 16: The Labour Relations Amendment Act

Bill 16 is one of several bills reintroduced when the Spring session ended, and proposes to amend the Labour Relations Act as follows:

  • An employer may terminate an employee for just cause based on strike-related misconduct even if the employee has not been convicted of a criminal offence for that misconduct.
  • The Manitoba Labour Board (the Board) may, before holding a certification vote, require that the workforce represents the employer’s regular or anticipated number of employees required to do the work.
  • A vote for decertification or for displacement must take place by secret ballot and within seven days. The threshold for holding a decertification vote is changed from 50% to 40% and for holding a displacement vote is changed from 45% to 40%.
  • The Board may review the appropriateness of a bargaining unit after certification has occurred.
  • The Board may declare that a successor employer does not acquire all or some of the predecessor employer’s rights and obligations on the sale of the business if there is a substantial change to the business.
  • The requirements for 90 days’ notice of a technological change from the employer and an arbitration process to deal with the failure to give that notice are repealed.
  • The Board may delay the settlement of a first collective agreement if the party requesting the settlement has not bargained in good faith and sufficiently and seriously.
  • The arbitration provisions for a subsequent collective agreement are repealed.
  • The requirement to review provisions of the Act (introduced in 2000) respecting the settlement of subsequent collective agreements is repealed.
  • Under its rules of practice and procedure, the Board must not provide for the release of the names of employees who sign certification, decertification or termination petitions.
  • The Board may order a party who brings before the Board a matter that is without merit to pay costs.
  • The Board’s power to conduct votes electronically or by telephone is clarified.

Bill 29: The Reducing Red Tape and Improving Services Act, 2020

Also initially introduced in the Spring Session, there is an amendment to The Labour Relations Act as follows:

  • Appeal is no longer required to make a decision within six months after a question of law is referred to the court. Instead, the decision must be made as soon as reasonably practicable.

Bill 11: The Workplace Safety and Health Amendment Act

This Bill makes the following amendments to The Workplace Safety and Health Act:

  • a discriminatory action is now referred to as a reprisal;
  • the position of the chief prevention officer is eliminated;
  • a referral for a reprisal must now be made to a safety and health officer within six months after the date of the alleged reprisal;
  • an appeal of a decision made by a safety and health officer may be dismissed by the director if the appeal is frivolous or vexatious, or, in the case of a reprisal, if it was not referred to an officer within six months;
  • maximum fines for offences under the Act are increased.

Bill 18 – The Workers Compensation Amendment Act

This Bill amends The Workers Compensation Act to respond to the 2016-2017 recommendations of the Joint Labour Management Legislative Review Committee. The significant changes are as follows.

Coverage and Assessment:

  • The definition “accident” is expanded and includes occupational diseases, post-traumatic stress disorder and acute reactions to traumatic events. An occupational disease presumption may be established by regulation.
  • WCB may no longer create new employer classes. An employer may be assigned to a different class in certain circumstances.
  • The existing class of provincially funded industries is repealed.

Compensation:

  • For calculating compensation, the maximum annual earnings are set at $150,000 (indexed).
  • WCB is provided with more flexibility to deal with compensation payments on behalf of a worker and to provide medical aid to a worker.

Administration:

  • WCB must establish a prevention advisory council.
  • WCB is provided with the power to establish board committees.
  • The appeal commission now has the authority to establish practice and procedure rules.
  • Restrictions on information disclosure are enhanced.
  • The position of employer adviser is created to assist employers in understanding the Act and the decisions made under it.
  • The buyer of a business is made liable for the seller’s outstanding debts to the WCB if a clearance certificate is not first obtained.
  • Delivery and publication requirements are modernized.

Enforcement:

  • An employer is prohibited from deducting employee benefits to pay for an employee’s compensation claim. WCB may reimburse an affected employee and collect the amount from the employer.
  • Penalties are added to late annual assessment payments.
  • WCB lien priorities and registration requirements, as well as its enforcement and inspection powers and administrative penalty scheme, are updated.
  • Fines from administrative penalties and offences are to be paid into the accident fund.

Bill 26 – The Human Rights Code Amendment Act

Bill 26 amends The Human Rights Code.

  • The Manitoba Human Rights Commission’s current responsibilities for administering complaints will now be carried out by the Commission’s executive director. The power to dismiss complaints is broadened and made available before an investigation. If the executive director terminates proceedings or dismisses a complaint on certain grounds, the complainant may ask the Commission to review the decision.
  • An adjudicator must follow a time limit when holding a hearing and issuing a decision and may make certain orders and decisions on an oral basis before issuing them in writing. A $25,000 cap on damages for injury is established as well as factors to consider when awarding such damages. A different adjudicator may be appointed to explore settlement with the parties before a hearing.
  • The Bill also clarifies and modernizes existing wording in the Code as well as certain notice requirements.

Bill 27 – The Administrative Tribunal Jurisdiction Act

This Bill establishes The Administrative Tribunal Jurisdiction Act.

  • This Act addresses the ability of administrative tribunals to decide questions of constitutional law. An administrative tribunal cannot decide a question of constitutional law unless the tribunal has been designated by regulation as having jurisdiction to decide that question.
  • A person who intends to raise a question of constitutional law in a proceeding that is to be decided by a designated administrative tribunal must give notice to specified recipients before the start of the proceeding. The Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of Manitoba may make submissions in such a proceeding.

RCC will continue to work collaboratively with other business associations, and on behalf of unique interests of the retail sector as these Bills work their way through the legislative process in coming months.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: John Graham, Director of Government Relations (Prairie Region) at: [email protected] or (204) 926-8624.

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