A recent Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta decision provides clarity amidst the conflicting jurisprudential landscape regarding whether the assessment of damages for a termination without cause is appropriate for summary judgment. The court supported a master's finding that an assessment of damages for pay in lieu of reasonable notice for wrongful dismissal is inappropriate for summary judgment.
A recent case examined the apportionment of liability for damages between multiple defendants where at least one of them is statutorily immune from liability. The court considered whether an employer can be held vicariously liable for damages caused by its employee's negligence when the injured party, the employee and the employer are subject to the Workers' Compensation Act.
The Alberta Court of Appeal recently ruled on the tendering of a contract that will be of interest to owners and contractors alike. The court upheld an owner's right to rely on privilege and discretion clauses and a description of the relevant evaluation criteria in the tender documents, as well as its right to take a nuanced view of the costs to choose the contractor that it considered best suited to the project.
For many junior resource company executives, deciding whether to engage investment finders can be like considering whether to breathe air. Such companies tend to have early-stage projects that do not warrant debt financing and therefore need equity injections, but lack the profile needed to attract traditional investment dealers. However, working with finders entails navigating the 'exempt' market, which can be hazardous to the ill-informed.
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) recently prosecuted three workers who were receiving WSIB benefits for failing to report a material change with respect to their benefit entitlement. The WSIB argued that it was not required to prove that the workers had intended to defraud the board. However, the Ontario Court of Appeal disagreed and held that to obtain a conviction for failing to report a material change, prosecutors must prove something akin to tax evasion or fraud.
The expansion of recognised duties of care owed to intoxicated persons recently met resistance from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The plaintiff in the case was one of four intoxicated passengers in a taxi who had been injured after the taxi was involved in an accident. The court centred its decision on the evidentiary record in the case, which established no reasonable basis for the plaintiff's expectation that the taxi driver would ensure that he wore his seatbelt.
A Canadian man was recently convicted and fined for operating his drone within 30 feet of the approach path at Yellowknife Airport. This decision clarifies that reckless drone operations near airports and populated areas will be taken seriously by the courts and that significant fines may be levied against recreational pilots.
The Supreme Court of Canada recently agreed to hear an appeal of a Quebec case concerning the obligations and rights of a pension plan administrator after a pensioner went missing. In their decisions, the lower courts agreed that the university had been correct to continue the monthly pension payments for the five years that the pensioner had been missing because the pensioner was presumed to be alive at the time.
The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench recently struck down successive mark-ups on out-of-province craft beer as barriers to interprovincial trade contrary to Section 121 of the Constitution Act 1867. This is the first decision to apply the Supreme Court of Canada's interpretation of Section 121 as developed in R v Comeau. Further, this is the first decision in recent Canadian legal history to declare a legislative provision unconstitutional for violating Section 121.
An excavation contractor who was found guilty of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death has been sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment by the Court of Quebec. The sentence – which is a first in Quebec legal history – sends a clear message to employers concerning the importance of complying with their occupational health and safety obligations.
An assistant fire chief recently won a wrongful dismissal suit after he was fired for receiving a 90-day administrative driving prohibition for impaired driving while off duty. The court held that the assistant fire chief's off-duty conduct was not incompatible with the faithful discharge of his duties or otherwise prejudicial to the interests or reputation of the fire department and awarded him five months' salary as provided for in his employment contract.
The Alberta Court of Appeal recently provided clarity on what the Crown must prove in a prosecution under the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding the failure to ensure the health and safety of workers. The key question before the court was whether the expression "as far as is reasonably practicable for the employer to do so" in the general duty section of the act was part of the physical components of the offence that the Crown had to prove.
An Ontario court has permitted an employee to refer in her statement of claim for constructive dismissal and bad faith to the communications and conduct of the company's lawyer in respect of a sexual harassment investigation. The court held that the discussions and conduct of the lawyer with respect to the investigation did not relate to a litigious dispute, but rather to the company's statutory obligation to investigate claims of sexual harassment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
In what appears to be a novel regulatory decision, the Ontario Court of Justice recently held the owner of an electrical contracting firm personally liable for its regulatory fines after he transferred assets out of the company following a fatal incident. In a rather scathing decision, the judge held that the owner had put his own assets at risk by blurring the lines between himself and the company.
A group of female police officers has lost its bid to bring a class action in the courts for gender discrimination and harassment. The officers had claimed systemic gender-based discrimination and harassment by male members of the police force. However, the court held that it had no jurisdiction over the class action because the claims should have been brought at arbitration.
An Alberta safety manager recently won C$28,000 in damages after he was fired by his employer. The employer argued that the employee had quit or, in the alternative, that there was just cause for dismissal. The court held that the employee, who had three-and-a-half years of service and an annual salary of C$82,000, was entitled to four months' pay in lieu of notice.
A recent Ontario court decision illustrates the serious business implications that Occupational Health and Safety Act compliance issues or disputes can have on a company. The court held that although the city of Sudbury had initially breached its obligation of procedural fairness when imposing a bid ban on paving company Interpaving, it had "cured" that breach through its reconsideration and process, which gave Interpaving full opportunity to be heard.
An Ontario appeal judge has upheld the dismissal of Occupational Health and Safety Act charges against employees due to delay. The charges followed the death of a mining employee from cyanide intoxication by way of skin absorption. The total delay – from the laying of the charges to the last day scheduled for trial – was 21 months, which exceeded the 18-month presumptive delay ceiling set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in Jordan.
Two forklift operators were recently found guilty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for using mobile phones while sitting on their forklifts. The court held that "operating or using" a forklift includes sitting on a forklift even when it is stopped and turned off, as other workers and forklifts may be nearby and put at risk by the operator's distraction and inattention to their surroundings while using a mobile phone. Further, the employer had clearly prohibited the use of mobile phones in the warehouse.
The Alberta Court of Appeal recently reviewed the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act that enable the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) to be subrogated to the right of a claim against a party not covered by the act when the WCB has paid out benefits to a party that is covered by the act. The court confirmed that pursuant to the act, defendants that are not protected from suit should not be held liable for the portion of loss caused by an employer or worker that is protected from suit.