November 24, 2004

“Bill C-45 Says Workplace Safety Violations can be a Criminal Offence”

Geoffrey Howard, Gowlings, Laffleur Henderson
Craig Paterson, Craig Patterson and Associates
David Stewart, Workers’ Compensation Board

In 2003, the Federal Government amended the Criminal Code in Bill C-25 to make violation of safety and health regulations criminal offences, punishable by large fines or lengthy prison sentences. Organizations, including corporations, can be held criminally liable for the acts of their representatives. The law was a response to the Westray Mine disaster in Nova Scotia, where 26 miners perished, yet no one was held responsible for safety violations.

Charges were laid in September against a construction supervisor after a worker on his crew was killed in an accident.

What will this new law mean for employers and unions in British Columbia? Are criminal sanctions an effective means to promote occupational health and safety? What levels of an organization are liable?

The WCB now has the power to launch criminal prosecutions under its Act; how will these two systems operate together?

These and other important topics arising from Bill C-45 will be the subject of the program of the next meeting of the BCIRA. Geoffrey Howard from Gowlings, Laffleur Henderson will present the management perspective. Craig Patterson from Craig Patterson and Associates is an advocate for stronger health and safety protections for workers. David Stewart manages investigations by the Workers’ Compensation Board of BC and will explain how the new legislation will affect the WCB.

May 12, 2004

“Mental Health Issues in the Workplace”

Dr. Larry Myette, Director of Employee and Workplace Health Services, Healthcare Benefit Trust
Shona Moore, Shortt, Moore
Adriana Wills, Harris & Company

There is a growing awareness in Canadian society of the significance of mental health and illness. Many afflictions of this nature can be treated successfully, permitting persons with mental health conditions to be productive citizens, perhaps with some accommodation. In other situations, the symptoms of mental illness become apparent in the workplace. How should employers, unions, supervisors and fellow employees deal with these situations? What intervention strategies are effective in dealing with these problems?

The next meeting of the BCIRA will address some of these issues.

The principal speaker will be Dr. Larry Myette, Director of Employee and Workplace Health Services at the Healthcare Benefit Trust. Dr. Myette is a specialist in occupational medicine and has extensive experience in advising organizations and employees on assessing, accommodating and managing employees with mental disorders.

Two discussants will describe how they have assisted their clients in dealing with such a problem. Shona Moore, from Shortt, Moore, has represented unions in these situations. Adriana Wills, from Harris & Company, has experience acting for employers.

February 18, 2004

“BC’s New Privacy Act: How Does It Affect the Workplace?”

Mary Carlson, Director, Policy and Compliance with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Province
Janet Toddington, Legal Counsel at Canada Post
Jim Quail, Hospital Employees Union

On January 1 of this year, the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) took effect in British Columbia. It applies to organizations in the private sector which are not covered by federal legislation, on which the PIPA is modeled. This legislation contains a number of provisions that will affect employers and unions. Speakers at our next meeting will examine this topic from the perspective of the requirements of the law and the impact of similar legislation on employers and unions in jurisdictions with similar legislation.

Mary Carlson is the Director, Policy and Compliance with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Province. She has extensive experience in privacy technology and public policy. She will explain the requirements of the new PIPA.

Janet Toddington, Legal Counsel at Canada Post, will present the management perspective from an organization covered by (Federal) privacy legislation for many years.

A third panelist will address issues raised by privacy legislation from the union prospective.