January 28, 2021

Discussion of arbitration decisions tends to dominate many continuing education events for labour relations professionals, but knowledge of recent labour board decisions is essential for anyone who needs to be up to date on labour law in Canada. In this session, experienced counsel will review recent important decisions, identify emerging trends in labour board law, and explain the practical implications of these trends and decisions for unions, employers, and their counsel. Topics to be addressed include the following:

  • Have labour boards across Canada adequately adapted their processes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Have concerns about virtual hearings been overcome? Have requirements for evidence of union support and certification votes been sufficiently modified to adapt to work-from-home arrangements or virtual workplaces? Which of these changes, if any, are likely to endure after the pandemic ends?
  • When considering alleged violations of statutory freezes, how have labour boards determined what changes are permissible because they constitute “business as usual” in the midst of a pandemic that has necessitated unprecedented shutdowns of significant sectors of the economy and caused rapid and dramatic changes to economic conditions?
  • Does the Ontario Labour Relations Board’s Canadian Union of Postal Workers v. Foodora decision, which held that drivers delivering food ordered through Foodora were dependent contractors eligible to unionize, demonstrate that Canadian labour law is flexible enough to protect gig workers’ freedom of association?
  • Are labour boards moving to address the new “fissured workplace” in other ways? For example, has there been movement toward treating franchisors and franchisees as common employers?
  • How have recent labour board decisions dealt with perennially contentious issues such as determining whether bad faith bargaining has occurred or whether certain employer communications to employees constitute interference with the union?
  • What noteworthy remedial decisions have been issued by labour boards recently? Has the Ontario Labour Relations Board’s approach to interim relief changed significantly since the legislative amendments made in 2018 following the recommendations of The Changing Workplaces Review?