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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Committee Motion 91-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Government Response to Recommendations, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Mathisen

Thank you, Madam Chair. I would add that, first off, in the committee's motion to amend, they had also considered including an application process, and we had had a discussion about whether an application would be appropriate. Our department's fear in introducing an application was that it could actually open up scenarios where employers might potentially test the waters by submitting an application to our office to try to circumvent a proper group termination notice. Our intention with this bill is that it would only apply to very few exceptional scenarios. Although it may not read that it's written out that an employer would be required to provide specific reasons, upon receipt of inadequate notice, our office would contact the employer and ask for information to verify whether the circumstances met the criteria in the waiver of the exception provisions. That's typically how things work in employment standards, is that there is a dialogue back and forth when making these decisions and that dialogue would continue until our office felt satisfied we had enough information to make such a decision. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 91-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Government Response to Recommendations, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. Member.

Committee Motion 91-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Government Response to Recommendations, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. I appreciate that explanation. I just don't understand why we wouldn't make this an application-based process. Just getting a notice of termination, the employment standards officer, then they have to determine whether a waiver is being sought in the first place, then they have to determine whether they need more information. Why not just make it clear right up front that it's an application-based process? I think the wording in the bill now is going to delay a decision because the employment standards officer is going to have to go back and forth. I just don't get this.

My preference is that the onus be put on the employer to say very clearly, "We are seeking a waiver, and here's why." Leaving this on the back of the employment standards officer, I just don't think is an appropriate way to do this. The onus should be on the employer if they're going to seek this, and I don't think it has to be an onerous thing. I think they can develop a form, check off all the information, provide the contact information. "We are seeking a waiver, yes, and here's the reason why we're seeking a waiver." It could be done very easily. However, to just get a letter that we're going to terminate a number of employees, and then the employment standards officer has to figure out whether it fits the right time period, and then they have to go back and ask for more information about what the grounds are for the waiver, it just doesn't seem to make any sense to me. With that, Madam Chair, I want to move a motion to amend this section, if I may.

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I move that clause 11(3) of Bill 20 be amended by deleting the portion of proposed subclause 41(6) preceding paragraph (a) and substituting the following: "(6) On application, the employment standards officer may, by order, waive the application of subsection (2) if the officer is satisfied that." Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

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

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. Look, I don't want to drag this out any longer than I have to, but, Members, if you want to see what this actually does, everybody has a copy of Bill 20 in the grey binders underneath your desk. If you want to look at this, all this does is add two words at the beginning of clause 6 or whatever it's called here. The two words are "on application." Then it's very clear that it's an employer who is seeking a waiver and that they should be providing some information to the employment standards officer up front. I think this will shorten the period of time for getting to a decision and just allow for a more transparent and a quicker decision at the end of the day. Look, I didn't walk the halls to try to lobby everybody. That's not how I do my stuff here in the House. If you think this is the right way to do something, I would hope that you would vote in favour of it. I don't think I really have much else to add, Madam Chair. Thank you.

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. To the motion. Minister.

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you. This was discussed, the idea of an application, while we were working with committee. Ultimately, we came to an agreement that did not include an application. One of the reasons that I provided, and I don't know how influential this was on committee, but once we start introducing applications for this, it will give companies the opportunity to see if they can perhaps game the system. It allows them to test the waters. "Maybe I'll put in an application to see if I can lay people off sooner." That's not at all what this is intended for, this clause, and this motion introduces that idea. If anything, it would, I think, waste the time of the Employment Standards Office because they would have to deal with those companies who are testing the water.

I want to assure everyone that, if there is a notice of group termination, if there are 25, 50, 100 people getting laid off, you had better believe that the Employment Standards Office pays attention and deals with that immediately. It doesn't waste time; it doesn't dilly-dally and wait to make a phone call back; it jumps on it. That's what they do. In my opinion, I see this as adding red tape and adding time and really being contrary, I think, to what the Member's intent is here. Thank you.

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. To the motion. Member for Kam Lake.

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Madam Chair. This was discussed at committee at length, and I do see both where the Member is coming from and also where the Minister is coming from. Ultimately, where I ended up sitting was feeling that I wanted to make sure I was doing my due diligence to ensure I was protecting the rights of employers and making sure that, if somebody decided that they were going to go down this path, that they were fully committed to it before doing it and respect the views of the department that it would potentially open up opportunity for people to game the system. Ultimately, I won't be supporting the motion for that reason, in that I feel that it is important that, if somebody is going to do a group termination, that they are committed to it from the outset. Thank you.

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. To the motion.

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Question has been called. Member for Frame Lake.

Committee Motion 92-19(2): Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Deletion in subclause 11(3) of proposed subparagraph 41(6)(a)(ii), Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. I am not sure I can accept what the Minister said. Section 41(1) of the act, and this is one that is not being changed, says that an employer who wishes to terminate the employment of 25 or more employees at one time, or within a period not exceeding four weeks, shall give copy of the notice of termination to the employment standards officer and the trade union of which the employees may be members. This precludes a company from going on a fishing expedition, and if an employment standards officer gets a notice of group termination, and it's not for an actual termination, why would they even accept it? They could dismiss it very quickly.

I just don't accept what the Minister has said, that employers are going to be out there trying to game the system and that they are trying to do this testing the waters and so on. I just don't accept that as a valid reason to try to shift the onus back into the employment standards officer. I think it's much cleaner, clearer, the onus should be on the employer to seek the waiver, provide the information upfront, and let the employment standards officer do their work. That's the intention of this motion. Thanks, Madam Chair, and, Madam Chair, I request a recorded vote. Thank you.

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

March 12th, 2021

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The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. The Member has requested a recorded vote. All in favour, please stand.