This is page numbers 2525 - 2568 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was going.

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Recorded Vote
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Deputy Clerk Of The House Mr. Glen Rutland

The Member for Frame Lake.

Recorded Vote
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

All those opposed, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Deputy Clerk Of The House Mr. Glen Rutland

The Member for Deh Cho, the Member for Yellowknife North, the Member for Nahendeh, the Member for Sahtu, the Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, the Member for Hay River North, the Member for Great Slave, the Member for Kam Lake, the Member for Hay River South, the Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, the Member for Yellowknife South, the Member for Range Lake, the Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Recorded Vote
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Abstentions? None. Thank you. The results of the recorded vote are: 1 in favour, 13 opposed, no abstentions. The motion is defeated.

---Defeated

Clause 11, does committee agree? Member for Frame Lake.

Recorded Vote
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. I have one other issue I want to raise with this part of the bill. There are a number of reasons outlined that an employment standards officer could use to satisfy themselves that a waiver could be issued. Those are found in 6(a). The committee received correspondence from the Union of Northern Workers that expressed some concern about the broad and vague language of some of these provisions, in particular around (ii), climatic or economic conditions, so I would like to ask the Minister whether there is any kind of further case law or definitions or whatever that might inform how an employer can seek an exemption for climatic or economic conditions? Thank you, Madam Chair.

Recorded Vote
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. Minister.

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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you. I just want to point out that this clause isn't set up so that employers seek exemptions. Generally, what we expect to happen, and what happens across Canada, is that employers' backs are up against the wall. They are laying people off without checking legislation because it's a dire situation and they have no choice. I just wanted to make that point.

There is case law around the climatic or economic conditions. As was mentioned earlier, this was modelled after other acts from around Canada. There are also a number of qualifiers. In 11(6)(a), it says that it has to be an unforeseen event. It has to be beyond the control of the employer. If you see 11(6)(b), it says the employer has to exercise due diligence to avoid the cause of the termination. In addition to the case law, there are qualifiers right within the act as well. Thank you.

Recorded Vote
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. Member.

Recorded Vote
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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. I'm not sure that really answered the question. Look, I fully understand that there are a number of reasons why a waiver could be granted: destruction or major breakdown of equipment or machinery equipment and a number of kinds of emergencies. I just wonder about broad and vague language like "climatic or economic conditions," and whether there is any kind of guidance there. There doesn't seem to be any kind of guidance in the bill, the act itself, around how this could be interpreted. On what grounds would an employment standards officer be able to grant an exemption? Simply a business is doing bad, and it wasn't foreseen? That might be good enough for an employer to lay off their employees. What kind of guidance is available here? Thanks, Madam Chair.

Recorded Vote
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. Minister.

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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you. Businesses do bad all the time. That's not unforeseen. If you are going into business, you should foresee that you might not do well. That's just the way of the world. When we talk about economic conditions, that's a broader condition. There is some guidance in case law, but what happened is we did try and work to narrow this language down. In the end, what we did was we came back full circle, we had 10 times as many words that were basically a broad definition for climate or economic conditions. We could put "rain, snow, heavy winds," and other weather, but we are saying, basically, "climate conditions."

There were attempts made, but narrowing this down, I think, would lead us to situations where we are excluding companies who have legitimate claims from this exemption because they don't fit into the letter of the law. I think we've all seen policies that you kind of shake your head at because they don't seem to make any sense. It's a small technical point that is sort of working against the spirit of the bill. We wanted to avoid that, and we felt that there was enough case law, enough history with these types of clauses in Canada, that this was an appropriate level of detail. Thank you.

Recorded Vote
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. Member.

Recorded Vote
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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. I appreciate the Minister's explanation. I don't agree with it. If climatic or economic conditions lead to destruction or major breakdown of machinery or equipment, it's already covered with (i). If climactic or economic conditions lead to some kind of an emergency, particularly climatic conditions, it likely could be and would be covered off by the kinds of emergencies that are specified in the following three subclauses there. I think having this broad and vague language in here is not very helpful and is probably going to lead to things getting taken to court and so on for interpretations, appeals, and so on. I think that terms and conditions already laid out here with (i) about destruction or major breakdown of machinery or equipment or the other provisions around emergencies already cover off what could be covered by climatic or economic conditions. With that, Madam Chair, I'm going to move another motion. I guess I'm not doing too well here today, but I'll go ahead and do it anyway.

Committee Motion 93-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion and substitution in subclause 11(3), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

March 12th, 2021

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

That Bill 20 be amended by subclause 11(3) by deleting proposed subparagraph 41, (6)(a)(iii). Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 93-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion and substitution in subclause 11(3), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Frame Lake.