Suncor’s Random Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy Continues to be the Subject of Litigation

Suncor’s Random Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy Continues to be the Subject of Litigation

photo: flickr.com/magnumppi/

There have been several previous ABlawg posts on this litigation related to drug testing in the workplace. See here, here, here, and here.

Suncor Energy Inc. appealed an interim injunction granted by the ABQB (Unifor, Local 707A v Suncor Energy Inc., 2017 ABQB 752 (CanLII)), which prohibited it from implementing random drug and alcohol testing of members of Unifor Local 707A (Unifor) in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo until a new arbitration is ordered, unless the Supreme Court of Canada determines that a new arbitration is unnecessary (application for leave to appeal Suncor Energy Inc v Unifor Local 707A, 2017 ABCA 313 (CanLII) (the arbitration matter) to the SCC was initiated in November 2017). In the instant case, a majority of the Alberta Court of Appeal (per Justices Ronald Berger and Patricia Rowbotham) upheld the interim injunction.

Read More

SCC Overturns ABCA Ruling on Mandatory Interlocutory Injunction re: Information on Media Outlet’s Website

SCC Overturns ABCA Ruling on Mandatory Interlocutory Injunction re: Information on Media Outlet’s Website

photo: flickr.com/Asbjørn Sørensen Poulsen

The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) recently overturned the Alberta Court of Appeal’s ruling on this case and reinstated the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decision. This case has been the subject of previous blog postings by my colleague, Hasna Shireen; see here, here and here.

Read More

Charter of Rights and Homeless Persons

Charter of Rights and Homeless Persons

photo: flickr.com/Hanibaael

Many Canadians are living in poverty, and people from certain groups are overrepresented in those who are suffering poverty’s adverse effects, no matter how we measure or define “poverty”. For example, a 2015 study by the Edmonton Social Planning Council revealed troublesome statistics:

  • one in eight Edmontonians lives below the poverty line;
  • Alberta has the largest percentage of working people living in poverty in Canada;
  • one in five children under 18 in Edmonton live in poverty, and that number increases to one in two if the family has a single parent;
  • Aboriginal persons are twice as likely as non-Aboriginal persons to be living in poverty; and
  • Recent immigrants have comparatively lower incomes than other Canadians.
Read More

Human Rights Law and Employment: Does Context Trump Relationship?

Human Rights Law and Employment: Does Context Trump Relationship?

photo: flickr.com/yoni sheffer

Human rights legislation across Canada has similarities and differences. Most legislation covers discrimination in specific contexts (such as services customarily available to the public) and membership in professional associations or trade unions, or relationships (such as employment or landlord and tenant). Many also cover statements made in public. People are often protected from discrimination on grounds which include race, religious belief, gender, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability (mental and physical), age and the like. The wording of various statutory provisions is similar but not identical between jurisdictions. The varying interpretations given by the courts and human rights tribunals to the statutory provisions has led to a very complicated set of cases and principles on employment and discrimination.

Read More

Interveners in Human Rights Cases

Interveners in Human Rights Cases

photo: flickr.com/Sally T. Buck

In Canadian courts, even though they are not litigants, third parties may have an interest in intervening in court proceedings because the court’s judgment may affect them or others whom they represent. They often have information that they believe may be relevant to the courts in making their decisions. In Canada, interveners usually appear in appellate proceedings, but they can also appear in trial proceedings. Interveners commonly intervene on either side of a human rights or Charter dispute because these cases often deal with broad public policy issues. Interveners may include human rights statutory bodies (e.g., the Alberta Human Rights Commission), governments, unions, employer groups and interest groups (e.g., the Council of Canadians with Disabilities). While governments (e.g., Attorneys General) have the right to intervene in Charter cases and must be given notice in advance of a Charter claim, private interveners must seek leave (permission) from the court to intervene. It is quite usual for several interveners to seek leave to intervene in major human rights and Charter cases.

Read More

Yet Another Development in the Saga of Random Drug and Alcohol Testing at Suncor

Yet Another Development in the Saga of Random Drug and Alcohol Testing at Suncor

photo: flickr.com/fstorr/

Recently, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench (per Justice R. Paul Belzil) granted Unifor, Local 707A (the Union) an interim injunction prohibiting Suncor Energy Inc (Suncor) from implementing its random drug and alcohol testing policy pending either a successful application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada or, failing that, the parties holding a fresh arbitration hearing in early 2018.

Read More

Age Discrimination in Alberta Human Rights Legislation: New Developments

Age Discrimination in Alberta Human Rights Legislation: New Developments

photo: flickr.com/talkradionews/

Alberta will be amending its Alberta Human Rights Act RSA 2000, c A-25.5 (“Act”), to expand protections for age discrimination and include improved program protections. Bill 23, which introduced amendments to the Act, was passed on November 14, 2017. These amendments were scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2018. The changes were prompted by a Charter challenge by elder advocate Ruth Adria, who argued that the exclusion of protections against age discrimination in the areas of services available to the public and tenancies (in sections 4 and 5 of the Act) violated her Charter equality rights. In early 2017, the Alberta government agreed to a court order that required age discrimination to be added to the Act by January 2018.

Read More

The State of Mental Health Treatment for Youth in the Justice System

The State of Mental Health Treatment for Youth in the Justice System

photo: flickr.com/mastermaq/

Alberta’s youth criminal justice system is struggling to meet the demand for mental health treatment due to a lack of space in secure mental health treatment facilities. The youth criminal justice system would benefit from a more integrated approach to the administration of youth criminal justice services, the introduction of youth mental health courts, and the promised increase in funding for mental health services for youth in the system.

Read More

ABCA Agrees that Long Term Disability Plan was Bona Fide

ABCA Agrees that Long Term Disability Plan was Bona Fide

photo: flickr.com/Province of British Columbia

In two earlier rather complex decisions (Epcor Utilities Inc. v International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 1007 (McGowan Grievance) (2015), 22 CCPB (2d) 57, 2015 CanLII 62763 (AB GAA), application for judicial review dismissed; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1007 v Epcor Utilities Inc., 2016 ABQB 574 (CanLII)), Epcor Utilities Inc.’s long term disability plan was held at first glance to discriminate based on age, but was defended because it was a legitimate and genuine (bona fide) pension plan. In an earlier post, I described the lower court’s focus on statutory interpretation of subsection 7(2) of the Alberta Human Rights Act, RSA 2000, c A-25.5 (AHRA).

Read More

Copy of Police record checks – what can they disclose?

Copy of Police record checks – what can they disclose?

photo: flickr.com/davesblogg007

Police Record Checks are increasingly requested by employers and other entities, including volunteer, educational, licensing, adoption, foster care, and foreign travel organizations or authorities. It is important to understand that Police Record Checks can and do reveal information that goes far beyond records of criminal convictions. The most frequent call received by the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre (ACLRC) is from people who are surprised and distraught that a “criminal record check” has revealed personal information about them that is unrelated to any criminal record they may or may not have. The information disclosed in a Police Record Check not only includes records of criminal convictions but can also include “non-conviction records” and “police contact records.” The disclosure of this broader range of records can result in the subject of the PRC experiencing unfair treatment and humiliation. Police Record Checks also disproportionately affect people who have more contact with the police, such as people living in poverty or people with mental health or developmental disabilities. They may also negatively impact employers and other organizations that receive this information, if they collect, retain, use or disclose it in a manner that violates the law, including human rights, privacy and criminal laws.

Read More