Employment Updates Across Canada: What’s Coming in 2021…

Employment Updates - December 23, 20 - Sajitha Nair

2020 provided us with many changes across the country to support employees and employer through the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 is already shaping up to include further changes and considerations to Employment Laws. We’ve prepared a quick summary to help you learn what changes you may have to think about as 2021 kicks off.

Provincial Updates

Quebec’s Minimum wage increase

Quebec to increase minimum wages in 2021. As of May 1, 2021, the general minimum wage rate in Quebec will increase to $ 13.50 per hour.

This is an increase of $ 0.40 an hour, or 3.1%. For employees paid tips, the minimum wage will rise to $ 10.80 per hour, which represents an increase of $ 0.35 per hour.

BC’s Increased Employment Incentive

the BC Government announced a refundable tax credit for eligible employers who increase their payroll for eligible employees between Q3 and Q4, 2020, by either creating new jobs or increasing existing employees’ pay.

Online applications will open in March 2021, through the eTaxBC system. The tax credit will be calculated as 15% of the amount that the employer’s qualifying BC remuneration paid to eligible employees from Q4, 2020, exceeds the employer’s base BC remuneration paid to eligible employees from Q3, 2020. Both the qualifying and base BC remuneration calculation will be capped at a maximum of $1,129.33 per employee per week. Partial weeks will be prorated.

Ontario’s Upcoming obligations under the AODA

By January 1, 2021, certain private-sector organizations will be required to meet the following key deadlines: December 31, 2020: Filing an Accessibility Compliance Report; and January 1, 2021: Making website and web content accessible.

Please note 2020 AODA Compliance Report Submissions have been extended to June 30th 2021 for organization with 20 or more employees (non-for profits and businesses)

What are your organization’s next steps?

For organizations with 20 or more employees who are required to file an Accessibility Compliance Report by June 30, 2021, a compliance audit should be initiated in advance of this filing deadline.

This will give organizations ample time to consider any changes in the workforce or workplace since their last compliance report deadline and ensure that all practices, policies and procedures required under the AODA are in place before the December 31, 2020 deadline to file an Accessibility Compliance Report.

Those large organizations and public sector organizations should keep in mind the upcoming January 1, 2021 deadline to make all internet websites and web content accessible. Employers are encouraged to think proactively about their obligations under the AODA.

Alberta’s Bill 47: Ensuring safety and cutting red-tape Act

Bill 47 amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Radiation Protection Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act to simplify language and remove unnecessary barriers for job creators without making substantive changes to workers’ rights and protections.

Key changes include:

Occupational H&S Act:

  • Renames discriminatory action complaints to ‘disciplinary action complaints’ to avoid confusion with human rights laws
  • Allowing occupational health and safety officers to dismiss complaints of questionable merit before starting an investigation
  • Clarifies definitions and reporting requirements of potentially serious incidents
  • Clarifies rules and definitions around dangerous work refusals to make it easier to follow so that serious health and safety concerns can be resolved more quickly

Radiation Protection Act:

  • Incorporates radiation protection laws into the Occupational Health and Safety Act to provide clarity for employers and workers and make them easier to follow

Worker’s Compensation Act:

  • Reinstated an insurable earnings cap for injured and ill workers
  • Limited presumptive coverage for psychological injuries to firefighters, police officers, peace officers, correctional officers, paramedics and emergency dispatchers
  • Other types of workers still have access to coverage for work-related psychological injuries through the normal claim process
  • Returned the Workers’ Compensation Board’s responsibility to calculate cost of living adjustments, rather than basing them automatically on the Alberta consumer price index
  • Restored a voluntary system for reinstating an injured worker
  • Maintained injured workers’ right to choose a physician for a medical exam
  • Removed the requirement for employers to contribute to health benefit plans for injured workers who are off work

Canada-wide Update


COVID-19 Vaccine and its impact on your business strategy

The large scale and urgent delivery of COVID-19 vaccines represent the next challenge in an already unprecedented pandemic. Employee health and safety remain the top priority, but the actions for business leaders span far more. Therefore, every corporate board must determine what the vaccine delivery and administration means for them and how their organization must respond.

A recent Gartner webinar highlighted the following key stats:

  • 57% organizations plan on continuing all safety measures put in place even after the vaccine becomes widely available and
  • 90% organizations plan on continuing work from home or flexible working options for their employees even after the vaccine becomes widely available.

Navigating the issue of mandatory vaccines

Before making this decision, organizations must consider the following levels and factors:


  • National and provincial regulations
  • Collective bargaining agreements and work councils
  • Employee accommodations and exceptions for sincerely held religious beliefs, and for health/disability reasons


  • Health and safety of your employees: what is the impact that your vaccination response will have on the

health and safety (both physical and emotional) of your employees?

  • Importance to the business: what business consequences (both positive and negative) could occur with your vaccination response?
  • Legal risk to the business: what liability and risk do you open yourselves up to by requiring (or by not requiring) vaccinations?
  • Employee receptivity to the idea of mandatory vaccines: how will employees react to mandatory vaccinations and how do you plan on educating them on the importance of vaccinations?

The vital answer to navigating these issues are to “Build an agile and adaptive strategic plan for 2021″.

Key Considerations in Planning

  • Keep track of the legal and regulatory landscape regarding mandatory vaccinations, as it can change from week-to-week. Assume that some portion of your employee population may be required to get vaccinated.
  • Create clear communications and policies that outline what actions the organization plans to take, with an emphasis on why. In addition, communicate employee expectations for behavior, including treatment of other employees, and the use of PPE.
  • Use technology and data to communicate and drive decision making.
  • Be agile and prepare for delay, acceleration, contingencies – understand that the science is still not fully known, especially as it relates to immunity, side effects etc.

Establish a High-level Strategic Approach

  • Establish a Health and Safety playbook that includes vaccine planning. Review current capabilities across operations.
  • Keep an eye out for any information from health authorities and map out HR responsibilities moving forward.
  • Identify areas of regulations that could result in policy/process changes.
  • Be employee centric.

*Please Note:

All information with regards to the COVID vaccine has been taken from Gartner’s “The Impact of the COVID-19 Vaccine on Your Strategy” webinar and represent stats from US organizations.

All information mentioned here has been collected from various sources and does not entail a legal option. Please consult your lawyer to confirm any specific information that may apply to your organization.

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