How has COVID-19 Impacted Pre-trial proceedings in Canada?

Pre-trials allow for the parties involved in the litigation process to further identify or narrow the issues that may be raised during trial. They may also be used as a means to encourage settlement by a judge. With many public buildings, including courts closed this article will give you a list of the courts and new procedures and social distancing measures.

Impact of COVID-19 on Canadian Courts

Courts across Canada have adjusted their operations to ensure the safety and well-being of the public and all court participants. This includes the judiciary, court staff, litigants, witnesses, media and the general public. We have compiled a list of each court and some info relating to closures and restrictions.

Canadians involved in court matters—including family and civil trials, criminal trials, and tax court proceedings—are encouraged to consult the appropriate court website to get the most up to date information.

Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada building remains closed to visitors out of concern for their health and safety. However, the Court is open for case-related matters. Hearings were conducted both in person and by video conference during the first three weeks of the fall session, which began on September 22, 2020. The Chief Justice has directed that, given the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, all counsel are to appear via video conference, using Zoom, for hearings in November and December 2020. The Justices will be present in the Courtroom, and all proceedings will be live-streamed on the Court’s website.

For more information, please visit www.scc-csc.ca

Federal Court of Appeal

The Federal Court of Appeal has mapped out the following dates and PDFs for changes to its procedures. Please click below to download any of its documents.

For more information, please visit www.fca-caf.gc.ca

Federal Court

The Federal Court has mapped out the following dates and PDFs for changes to its procedures. Please click below to download any of its documents.

For more information, please visit www.fct-cf.gc.ca

Tax Court of Canada

Due to the suspension of time limits established by the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19), they are currently working on updating the Tax Court of Canada E-Filing application in order for the system to account for additional time for the filing of notices of appeal without having to make an Application for an Extension of Time.

For more information, please visit www.tcc-cci.gc.ca

Provincial and territorial courts

A full list of all impacted courts by territory can be found on www.justice.gc.ca

Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada

The Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada has mapped out the following dates and PDFs for changes to its procedures. Please click below to download any of its documents.

For more information, please visit www.cmac-cacm.ca

Talk to the employment law experts at KCY at LAW. Call us at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today!

Are virtual employees being left out of the workplace?

Most major Canadian & US companies including Amazon, Apple & Google are starting to require that employees work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There is an obvious health benefit to not being in a crowded office or having to commute to work, but the health risk and liabilities associated with long term remote work are still unclear and the potential impact on employees can be multi-faceted and long-lasting.

The mental health risks of being a virtual employee

Many employees in the coming weeks may experience unanticipated mental health consequences from mandated remote work, and it is important to be cognizant of this reality.

Isolation & Over work

Isolation and over work or burnouts can be two of the major concerns for employers and employees.

Anyone new to remote/virtual work may feel compelled to work longer hours and prove that they can be productive from home. As school children begin to take more lessons online and more things are virtualised this new norm can blur the lines of office and home time. Work-life balance can be very hard to define and carve out if working from home with children attending school remotely or a spouse or partner also working remotely.

Co-Worker Cohesion

An office’s performance is directly related to the relationships within it. This is critical to performance and the mental well-being of all employees. Many new technologies aim to increase communication but also to isolate. Meetings can be held without a staff members knolwedge far more easily now with Zoom and other video conferencing. The water-cooler no longer exists, virtual attempts are made via chat apps, and message boards but a virtual office is not as open as a traditional one.

New or junior employees coming into a virtual office will find it harder to make connections and gain the time they need with upper management.

For more information about work-from-home arrangements and possible legal issues arising from telecommuting and work from home employees, click here

As jobs move towards working electronically, so will expectations about working remotely. We recommend you design your telecommuting policy in consultation with an experienced employment lawyer. Call KCY at LAW on 905-639-0999 or contact us online to book your consultation.

Benefit Plans: Do employers have to provide benefits to their employees?

Employee Benefit Plans in Canada

So you’ve started a new job. And it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist. You’ve never had a massage and are wondering if it’s really as relaxing as you’ve heard. Plus you’ve got a prescription you’ve been meaning to fill but have been holding off because of the cost.

But now! Now you are employed. Now you will have benefits that cover these healthcare costs, right?

Do employers have to provide benefits to their employees?

There are some legislated benefits which your employer must provide, specifically:

  • Employment Insurance (both you and your employer must pay into this)
  • Canada Pension Plan (both you and your employer must pay into this)
  • Workplace Insurance Coverage (requirements and premiums for this coverage vary by industry)

However, any additional benefits, such as health insurance, a dental plan or life insurance, are at your employer’s discretion to provide.

Benefits are often an important part of a competitive compensation package to attract the top talent to your business. Health and dental insurance are some of the perks that come with employment for many, but not all, Ontario workers.

Further examples of benefits an employer may choose to provide include:

  • Retirement and pension benefits
  • Termination benefits
  • Disability, sickness and accident benefits
  • Medical, hospital, drug or dental benefits
  • Vision care
  • Life insurance
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Education and training

Benefit Plans and the Employment Standards Act

If your employer does choose to provide benefits, they must comply with the Employment Standards Act (ESA)’s rules against discrimination. The ESA’s anti-discrimination rule prohibits employers from discriminating in their benefit contribution requirements and benefit payments between employees, dependants or beneficiaries on the protected grounds of age, sex or marital status.

Benefits can, however, be varied among employees without being discriminatory if they are based on tenure. Furthermore, it is possible to provide different classes of employees (i.e. office workers and heavy machinery operators) with different benefit packages based on their needs.

While there are some complex exceptions to these rules, employers should be cautious and consult with an employment lawyer before providing different benefit plans between their employees.

Cost of Benefit Plans

Employers should carefully consider and define each benefit they choose to provide to their employees. Benefit plans can be costly – up to 30% of payroll for large companies – and cutting back on employee benefits, even in times of economic downturn, can be cause for constructive dismissal. Therefore, employers should carefully consider what types of benefits matter most to their employees and what they can afford.

Interaction Between Benefit Plans Leaves of Absence

All employees have the right to continue contributing to and participating in benefit plans when they take any job-protected leave of absence including pregnancy and parental leave, personal emergency leave or sick leave.

Benefit plans are an excellent way to attract top talent and ensure that your employees are healthy and productive. They can, however, be costly and choosing the right plan for your employees can be difficult. Consult with KCY at LAW to better understand your legal rights and obligations.

Call us today to book your consultation at 905-639-0999 or connect with us online by filling out a consultation request form.