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: Spring 2013 Labour & Employment Atlantic Canada Legislative Update

June 11, 2013

The following is a province-by-province update of legislation from a busy 2013 spring session in Atlantic Canada. Watching these developments, we know the new legislation that has passed or could soon pass, will impact our region's employers.

In New Brunswick amendments were introduced that, if passed, would see changes come into effect on June 1 of next year to the Workers' Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the focus was on protecting offshore oil workers with new legislation and regulations. In Nova Scotia, the government amended the Labour Standards Code to protect families of critically ill children and made changes to the definitions of "spouse" within the Pension Benefits Act. Prince Edward Island made changes to its Occupational Health and Safety Act.

We anticipate that the legislature in New Brunswick will continue sitting until later this month and we will keep you informed of any developments.

1. New Brunswick

New Brunswick introduced several amendments during the spring sitting of the legislature. These amendments include:

  • A new provision under the Employment Standards Act that places restrictions on the use of electronic pay statements;
  • Amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act that will impact time limits for making a claim and reporting requirements in the event of a workplace injury; and
  • Significant amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, that would include new requirements for safety policies, new health and safety program requirements and new reporting obligations.

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2. Newfoundland and Labrador

Amendments and New Legislation

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland and Labrador Act, (amendments) SNL 2013, c 3 (not yet in force).

Bill No. 1, An Act To Amend The Canada-Newfoundland And Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland And Labrador Act , will establish a new occupational health and safety regime in the offshore areas. While the amendments are not yet in force, industry leaders are encouraged to take proactive measures to ensure compliance when it does take effect.

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3. Nova Scotia

Amendments were made to the Labour Standards Code that provide for unpaid leaves of absence in the case of critically ill or abducted children. These amendments have received Royal Assent and will come into effect on a future date by proclamation.

Amendments to the Pension Benefits Act provide a broader definition of "spouse". This amendment received Royal Assent and is now in effect.

Workers' Compensation Act amendments allow for reinstatement of benefits to spouses who lost those benefits on remarriage.

In addition, the legislature passed Bill 61, the Cyber-safety Act. Although aimed at preventing events in light of a recent teen suicide in Nova Scotia, Bill 61 goes further by creating the tort that, through the common law principle of vicarious liability, may result in workplace litigation. More can be read on the Act by visiting our blog and reading The business case against workplace bullies just got stronger! The Cyber-safety Act received Royal Assent and will come into effect on a future date by proclamation.

The province also created more regulations under the Labour Standards Code General Regulations dealing with foreign workers in the province that came into effect on February 1, 2013 and May 1, 2013.

New Occupational Health and Safety Act regulations come into effect on June 12, 2013 that combine previous regulations and provide new definitions and new standards, including adopting visibility standards for clothing are required.

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4. Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island amended its Occupational Health and Safety Act to extend the prosecution timeline to two years.

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