Home|Conferences & Workshops|Ottawa Labour Law Conference - Ottawa

Ottawa Labour Law Conference

Ottawa • October 27, 2021
Virtual Event

Register Now


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:30 AM - 9:35 AM  

Panel 1

Cross-Canada Highlights: Our annual look at major labour caselaw and legislation

9:30 AM - 10:20 AM

Sean Bawden
Employer Counsel
Kelly Santini LLP
Daria Strachan
Union Counsel
Shields Hunt Duff Strachan

Panel Summary

In this session, top advocates will review the year's most important cases and legislative developments, addressing issues such as the enforceability of last-chance agreements, appropriate disciplinary penalties for harassment and off-duty misconduct, and significant decisions that have applied the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling in Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov. The panel will also flag significant developments on the horizon. Final selection of topics will take place in the weeks leading up to the conference, ensuring coverage of the latest and most important developments.


10:20 AM - 10:30 AM

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:30 AM - 9:35 AM  

Panel 2

Navigating the Post-pandemic Workplace: Flexible work arrangements, privacy issues, vaccination policies, and more

10:30 AM - 11:20 AM

John McLuckie
Union Counsel
Jewitt McLuckie & Associates LLP
Odessa O'Dell
Employer Counsel
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Panel Summary

Neither employers nor employees seem to think that working conditions will be — or should be — the same after the pandemic as they were before. Post-pandemic workplaces are likely to offer flexible arrangements to respond to employee preferences to work from home at least part of the time, but flexibility may come with increased surveillance of employees. Employer inquiries about vaccination status or off-duty activities may arise, and mandatory vaccination policies may be adopted to ensure workplace safety in the face of a still-evolving virus. In this session, leading labour lawyers will provide guidance on navigating privacy, human rights, and management rights issues that are emerging as workplace parties tackle the following questions:

  • Is allowing unvaccinated employees in the workplace a failure to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of employees?
  • If a workplace institutes a mandatory vaccination policy, what elements should be included to increase the odds of it withstanding legal scrutiny and respecting employees' privacy and human rights?
  • Must sick leave policies be changed temporarily or permanently to ensure that employees with symptoms of COVID-19 or another infectious disease, or those who should isolate due to exposure, do not come to work?
  • From both the management and union perspectives, what are the pros and cons of continuing work-from-home arrangements when the pandemic ends? Is now the time to experiment with other ways of working? Has the time come for four-day workweeks or shorter workdays?
  • What rules concerning employee privacy and working hours should govern work-from-home arrangements? What limits, if any, should be placed on using new digital monitoring technologies to supervise employees and manage performance?
  • What other key issues should be addressed in policies or collective agreement provisions governing work-from-home arrangements?


11:20 AM - 11:30 AM

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:30 AM - 9:35 AM  

Panel 3

Building the Trauma-Informed Workplace: Guidance from practitioners

11:30 AM - 12:20 PM

Erin Fitzpatrick
Lawyer and Registered Social Worker
Fitzpatrick Law
Marian MacGregor
Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion;
York University

Panel Summary

In recent months, many have struggled to cope with trauma arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and reckoning with long-standing social injustice. This collective experience has greatly increased awareness of the prevalence and impact of trauma. Across all sectors, organizations are recognizing how much they stand to benefit from applying trauma-informed principles. In this session, experts will explore what it means to use a trauma-informed approach in the context of workplace processes and practices and will examine how unions and employers can contribute to healing and recovery during these challenging times.


12:20 PM - 1:10 PM

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:30 AM - 9:35 AM  

Panel 4 (optional)

Focus on the Federal Sector: Violence and harassment, privacy, equity and diversity, Canada Labour Code reforms, and more

1:10 PM - 2:15 PM

Stephanie Lewis
Employer Counsel
Christopher Rootham
Union Counsel
Nelligan O'Brien Payne LLP

Panel Summary

The law governing federally regulated workplaces has changed significantly in the past year, and further change is on the horizon. Since the beginning of the year, employers and unions in the federal sector have been working to implement new workplace harassment and violence prevention policies and procedures required by Bill C-65 and the accompanying Regulations. Soon, they will have new responsibilities and rights under the Pay Equity Act. Public consultations on a "right to disconnect" and gig work and a major review of the federal Employment Equity Act and the Digital Charter Implementation Act are likely to provide workplace parties with additional challenges in the near future.

In this session, a panel of experts will flag new employer and union duties and provide practical tips to help workplace parties meet these obligations. Questions to be addressed include the following:

  • What best practices and major pitfalls are emerging as workplace parties respond to new obligations created by Bill C-65 and the Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations? Have unions and employers been able to create lists of mutually acceptable investigators?
  • How will the privacy law reforms in Bill C-11, the Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2020, affect federally regulated employers and unions? Do the Digital Charter's provisions regarding automated decision processes adequately respond to union and worker concerns about algorithmic management?
  • What new obligations do employers have under the Pay Equity Act? What new rights do unions and employees have? What tools and resources are available to assist parties in meeting their obligations and exercising their rights?
  • What is the impetus behind the major review of the Employment Equity Act? What changes are employers and unions advocating?
  • Are amendments to the Canada Labour Code implementing a "right to disconnect" imminent? What must workplace parties do to make this right meaningful?
  • What recommendations are likely to come out of the recent public consultation on gig work in the federal sector?

Conference Ends

2:15 PM

Keynote Speakers


Click here to find out more information regarding CPD and the hour requirements in your province.

Conference Session

  • Members of the Law Society of Ontario may consider counting this program for 3.5 Substantive Hours; 0 Professionalism Hours.

HRPA Continuing Professional Development

This program has been approved for 3.5 Continuing Professional Development hours under Section A3 of the Recertification Log of the Human Resources Professionals Association.