In the course of the year, it will be interesting to see how the Government of Québec will deal with pay equity matters. In an important decision issued last October, the Québec Court of Appeal declared that several sections of the Pay Equity Act were unconstitutional. More specifically, it struck down the ’09 provisions dealing with the maintain and posting exercises. The Attorney General has filed an application for leave to appeal of this decision before the Supreme court so nothing is settled yet. In addition, the federal government recently announced its intention to compel employers subject to the federal labour relations regime to comply with pay equity measures in their organizations. Developments on this front are expected between now and 2018 so we foresee pay equity legislation to occupy quite a bit of space in the media in the upcoming months.
On another note, minimum wage increases have been the subject of much debate in North America recently, with certain legislations providing for substantial increases. In Québec, there is pressure from many groups to set the minimum wage at $15.00 but for now, the Government has allowed an increase of $0.50 to set the hourly minimum wage at $11,25 starting May 1, 2017. If other provincial governments follow in Alberta’s footsteps, where the minimum wage will progressively increase to $15.00, pressure might rise on this important social debate.
Recently, the Minister responsible for Labour in Québec, Dominque Vien, publicly announced that she was interested in revisiting the provincial Act respecting labour standards. This came as somewhat of a surprise for many actors in labour relations, including employer associations, unions and employee associations. In the media, each group claimed to have numerous requirements they wished to see reflected in eventual modifications to this Act so it might not be a simple subject to deal with. Time will tell if status quo is Minister Vien’s safest bet.
Finally, employers across the country may soon need to review some of their HR policies as the Federal Government seems keen on legalizing recreational marijuana. For now it is difficult to predict what the impacts of this new legislation will be but it is reasonable to say that health and safety policies and drug and alcohol policies (among others) will need to be revamped…
Many other interesting E&L developments are set to occur in Canada and Québec in 2017 and we will keep our readers appraised as the events unfold.