Bulletin December 2008
Reasonable Notice of
Employment Changes Not Enough: Court
A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal could have At the end of the period, the employer stated that, as per
significant implications for employers who want to amend the notice they had provided, the amended contract was
an employee’s terms of employment. Even if you provide now in place and there would be no job for him if he
adequate notice of a change to an employment contract, refused. Mr. Wronko again rejected it, left, and sued for
this latest ruling suggests that may not be enough to limit constructive dismissal.
your exposure to risk.
The Ontario Court of Appeal concluded that the employer
In the case of Wronko v. Western Inventory Service Ltd.,
Ltd had in effect terminated Mr. Wronko without notice or
the Ontario Court of Appeal held that employee cause and he was entitled to two years salary less what he
Mr. Darrell Wronko was wrongfully dismissed, even earned from other employment during the two year notice
though he was provided with two years’ notice of a period. According to the Ontario Court of Appeal, the
contract change. While the Wronko case deals specifically employer should have terminated Mr. Wronko when he
with severance pay, this ruling may have implications with first objected to the changes and offered to rehire him
regard to any unilateral changes to an employment based on the terms in the amended employment contract.
contract – such as alterations to benefits or retirement On October 9, 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada denied
savings programs. leave to appeal the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal
In the Wronko case, the employer tried to shorten
the severance pay provision (from two years to thirty weeks)
Application of this ruling in practical terms is difficult as it
outlined in the employment contract of a long-service
suggests that, if employees reject a change an employer is
employee, Mr. Wronko. Mr. Wronko rejected the employer’s
trying to implement, the employer must terminate the
proposed changes, and so the employer gave him two
employee and then offer the employee re-employment on
years’ notice that the new contract would come into effect.
the amended terms.
Mr. Wronko consistently rejected the change during this
time and refused to sign the amended contract.
...continued on page 3
What’s inside ..
- Travel Vaccinations Reminder – Be on Guard
When Travelling Outside Canada
- Quebec Helps Victims of Crime
- Reasonable Notice of Employment Change
Not Enough: Court (cont’d)
- Newsletter Q & A’s
- Holiday Hours
We care about what you care about.
Travel Vaccinations Reminder –
Be on Guard When Travelling Outside Canada
Winter is a busy time for travel. Whether through bodily fluids and infected Meningococcal meningitis is a highly
your employees are headed on a blood. Hep A or combo hep A/hep B contagious disease that can lead to
business trip abroad, or to the islands vaccines are available in Canada. death if not immediately treated. It
for some fun, you may want to remind is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa,
them about the importance of vaccines. Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection mainly during the dry season. Travellers
Not only are some vaccinations required spread via food or water that has not to Saudi Arabia for the Umrah and Hajj
in certain countries, they can be highly been properly treated. It has been found seasons are required to show proof of
effective in preventing a variety of in many developing countries in Asia, vaccination before entry.
diseases. Africa and South America. The vaccine is
recommended if travelling to rural areas, Rabies kills more people worldwide
The Public Health Agency of Canada smaller cities and villages. Vaccinations than any other common infection, says
recommends travellers contact their have been shown to provide 70-90% the World Health Organization. It is
doctor or public health unit six to eight protection. prevalent in Southeast Asia, Latin
weeks ahead of the scheduled travel America and Africa. Pre-exposure
date to determine if immunizations are There is currently no vaccine for vaccines are recommended, and the
required. It’s important to bring along a malaria. Travellers to malaria hot zones post-exposure vaccine must be
medical history, current medication(s) such as sub-Saharan Africa, as well as administered immediately if bitten
and other personal risk factors such as Asia and Latin America, should consider by a rabid animal.
allergies, asthma, pregnancy, diabetes taking anti-malaria medication.
etc. so the proper vaccination program For more information on travel health
can be administered. Travellers may also want to make sure and other vaccines not listed here, call
their vaccinations are up-to-date for 1-613-957-8739 or visit the website
Common Illnesses measles, mumps, rubella, and polio. www.travelhealth.gc.ca.
If you plan to travel to a developing Canadians who have not had a tetanus
country – even if your destination is a shot in the last 10 years should have If you have a newsletter or Intranet, and
resort – the most common illnesses you one prior to travel. you would like to provide this article to
may encounter include traveller’s your employees, please contact your
diarrhea (TD), hepatitis A, typhoid Other required or Cowan representative. We would be
fever, and malaria. recommended vaccinations: happy to provide you with a PDF
Yellow fever is a viral infection version.
Diarrhea is the most common transmitted by the bite of an infected
medical problem affecting travellers mosquito. The vaccine is required for *Please note: this article is not meant to
to developing countries. TD is usually entry to several countries in South replace the advice of your family physician
caused by ingesting contaminated food America and Central Africa. There are or public health unit. Please talk to a
or water. The most common bacterial another 102 countries that require proof medical health professional about your
cause of TD is enterotoxigenic E. coli of the vaccination if travellers have specific travel arrangements to determine
(ETEC). Oral cholera vaccines are passed through a yellow fever area. the best course of action.
available in Canada, which provide
moderate protection to TD. Japanese encephalitis is caused by the
mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis
Hepatitis A and B both affect the liver. virus. It is most prevalent in East Asia,
Hep A is acquired indirectly through especially in late summer and early fall.
food or water contaminated with human It also occurs sporadically in tropical
feces. It is common in rural areas, as well areas of Southeast Asia, such as
as “five-star” resorts. Hep B – the more Thailand. The vaccine is recommended
serious of the two – is transmitted for anyone planning on staying a month
or longer in infected areas.
Quebec Helps Victims of Crime ...continued from page 1
Reasonable Notice of
With the passage of Bill 58, Quebec has employee personally injured as the
become the first province to provide result of a criminal offence, or if his/her Employment Changes
unpaid leaves of absence from work for minor child is similarly injured, and/or, Not Enough: Court
employees injured as the result of a if the employee’s spouse or child dies
criminal offence. This provision, which as the result of a criminal offence. So the traditional thinking of providing
amends the Act Respecting Labour An absence of up to 52 weeks will be adequate notice ahead of a major
Standards (R.S.Q.c.N-1.1), also applies to permitted if the employee’s spouse or change may now be challenged –
an employee whose minor child was child commits suicide or if the child perhaps for any terms of an
injured as the result of a criminal goes missing. employment contract. Employers
offence. Other provinces are should proceed with caution and seek
considering similar legislation. Employers are mandated by the legal advice when trying to make
legislation to continue to provide changes to the “deal” they have with an
This new legislation does not cover group insurance and pension coverage employee or a group of employees.
employers regulated by federal labour during the leave period, as long as the
legislation, such as banking, transpor- employee continues to contribute to Rachel M. Arbour, a lawyer with Hicks
tation and telecommunications. the cost of the plan to the same extent Morley, spoke about the Wronko
Furthermore, it is not applicable to as required prior to the leave of case at a recent Cowan Pension and
employees implicated in the crime or absence. Several insurers and pension Benefits seminar in Cambridge, ON.
who may have contributed to the providers have already confirmed that She told us that in light of this case,
injury by a “gross fault”. To be eligible they will assist employers in complying and in fact even before this case, they
for the leaves of absence, employees with the legislation. An employee is were already starting to see letters
must have been credited with at well advised to confirm with the from employees rejecting changes
least three consecutive months of benefits or pension carrier whenever an to their plans.
uninterrupted service with the employee takes advantage of the
employer, prior to the event. legislation. If an employee rejects a change, the
employer should confirm with that
Maximum leaves of absence vary from If you have any questions on this issue, employee that they will be moving
26 weeks up to 104 weeks, depending please contact your Cowan benefits or forward with the changes. Arbour
on the reason for the absence. Absences pension consultant, or the author of also recommends being proactive.
up to 104 weeks are available for an this article – benefits consultant Fred She suggests developing
Quinton: 1-800-609-5549 ext. 51101 communication strategies well in
or firstname.lastname@example.org. advance of any unilateral changes,
and if communications have not been
clear enough in the past, correct them
going forward. “Don’t just wait for
the claim to drop on your desk.”
For more information, please call
your Cowan consultant, or Teresa
Norris-Lue, Vice President of
Southwestern Ontario for Cowan
Benefits Consulting at:
1-800-609-5549 ext. 51304 or
Newsletter Q & A’s
In the last Bulletin newsletter, we 2) If the claim is for the spouse – Holiday Hours at
mentioned that from time to time, we
would include answers to
the reverse order must be used.
The claim first goes to the
commonly-asked questions for our spouse’s insurer then to your Consulting
readers. Here is another question we plan’s insurer.
often get asked. Christmas Eve
3) If the claim is for a dependant - Office closes at noon
Q: My employee is covered child – the claim must first be
under our group plan. Her sent to the insurance company of Christmas Day
spouse has coverage with the parent with the earliest - Closed
another employer. Can she birthday in the year. For example: Boxing Day
and her spouse claim from if one parent’s birth date is
January 27, 1980 and the other’s
both insurance companies,
for the same medical or is May 25, 1976, all claims for New Year’s Eve
dental claim? dependant children must first go - Office closes at 3pm
to the insurance company for the
New Year’s Day
A: Yes, claims can be charged parent with the January birthday.
against both plans, but with Unpaid balances may then be - Closed
restrictions. Group plans contain a sent to the other insurer.
Coordination of Benefits (COB)
provision. The purpose of this is to
restrict the reimbursement of
claims to no more than 100% of
the incurred expense.
To make it easier for insured plan
members to understand how
claims are administered, the
insurance industry has set a
protocol for how claims are paid
1) If the claim is for the member of
your plan – the claim must be
sent to your insurer for payment,
first. Any unpaid portion of the
claim may then be sent to the
spouse’s insurer for payment, up
to a maximum paid of 100% of
the total expense.
This bulletin is produced by Cowan Benefits Consulting, a member of the Cowan family of companies. We are a full-service
advisory firm helping public and private-sector clients manage their group benefits, retirement and health and disability
management plans. We do this by consulting and providing administrative services tailor-made to any size and
type of organization.
Contact us to subscribe to our newsletter, find out more about the contents discussed in this issue or
learn more about any of Cowan’s service offerings. Cowan Benefits Consulting
705 Fountain Street North
700-1420 Blair Place PO Box 1510
Ottawa, ON K1J 9L8 Cambridge, ON N1R 5T2
Phone: 613-741-3313 Phone: 519-650-6361
Fax: 613-741-7771 Fax: 519-650-6367
Toll free: 1-888-509-7797 Toll Free: 1-800-609-5549
2008 Headlines of the Year
The Bulletin by Cowan Benefits Consulting has covered a variety of topics over the last 12 months. For your
reference, below is a list of headlines separated out by issue. To visit online issues of the newsletter, please go to:
March 2008 September 2008
• WSIB Claims - It May be Time • What Goes Into an Effective
to Take a Second Look Wellness Program?
• 2008 Budget Highlights • The Tax Free Savings Account – What
• The Importance of Beneficiary It Means For You
Designations • Unfulfilled Expectations
• B.C. Latest Province to Ban • Notice: Quebec Basic Drug Plan Changes
Mandatory Retirement • Don’t Miss the Deadline for Registering
• Federal Government Increases Over-Age Students
May 2008 November 2008
• Helping Plan Members Weather • How to Help Employees Through
the Stormy Market Turbulent Financial Times
• Ontario Budget Highlights • Helping Employees Deal With an
• ODB Delists Dozens of Drugs
• Chronically Absent Employees – When
• Put Us to Work For You to Call in Help
• The Benefits of a Benchmarking • Newsletter Q & A
July 2008 • Court Decision Has Implications for
• Workplace Wellness Helps Tone Benefits Changes
the Bottom Line • Travel Vaccinations Reminder: Be on
• Pension Plan Participation During Guard When Traveling Outside Canada
an Absence • Quebec Helps Victims of Crime
• Waiver of Participation • Calendar of Awareness Campaigns 2009
• Third Party Administrators You • Newsletter Q & A
We care about what you care about.
Calendar of Events 2009
There are so many important awareness campaigns throughout the year that we thought we would highlight a few of the
health-related ones. We will also be writing about a few of these topics in 2009. Stay tuned!
• Alzheimer Awareness Month (www.alzheimer.ca) • Cell Phone Courtesy Month
• National Non-Smoking Week (www.nnsw.ca) • Personal Health Month
• Social Wellness Month
• National Heart Month (www.heartandstroke.ca) August
• Eating Disorders Awareness Week (www.nedic.ca) • First Aid Month
• National Kidney Month (www.kidney.ca) • Ovarian Cancer Month (www.ovariancanada.org)
• “Help Fight Liver Disease” Month (www.liver.ca) • National Arthritis Month (www.arthritis.ca)
• National Nutrition Month (www.dieticians.ca) • Muscular Dystrophy Month (www.muscle.ca)
• National Epilepsy Month (www.epilepsy.ca) • Prostate Cancer Awareness Week (www.prostatecancer.ca)
• National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
• Red Cross Month (www.redcross.ca) • SIDS Awareness Month (www.sidscanada.org)
• Autism Awareness Month (www.autismsocietycanada.ca)
April • Celiac Awareness Month (www.celiac.ca)
• National Dental Health Month (www.cda-adc.ca) • Eye Health Month (www.opto.ca)
• Parkinson’s Awareness Month (www.parkinson.ca) • Lupus Awareness Month (www.lupuscanada.org)
• Daffodil Month/National Cancer Month (www.cancer.ca) • Breast Cancer Awareness Month (www.cancer.ca)
• National Physiotherapy Month (www.physiotherapy.ca) • Influenza Immunization Awareness Month
• World Health Day (www.who.int/world-health-day/en) (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dc-ma/influenza/)
• National Immunization Awareness Week • Healthy Workplace Month (www.healthyworkplacemonth.ca)
(www.immunize.cpha.ca) • Brain Tumour Awareness Month (www.braintumour.ca)
• Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month (www.mssociety.ca) • Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month (www.ccfc.ca)
• Hepatitis Awareness Month • Amaryllis Month (www.huntingtonsociety.ca)
• Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month • CPR Awareness Month (www.heartandstroke.ca)
• Diabetes Month (www.diabetes.ca)
• Cystic Fibrosis Month (www.cysticfibrosis.ca)
• Osteoporosis Month (www.osteoporosis.ca)
• Allergy Awareness Week
• National Mental Health Week (www.cmha.ca) December
• Christmas Seal Campaign (www.lung.ca)
• World AIDS Day (www.cdnaids.ca)
• ALS Awareness Month (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) (www.als.ca)
• Brain Injury Awareness Month (www.biam.ca)
• National Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Awareness Month
• Stroke Awareness Month (www.heartandstroke.ca)
• Thyroid Awareness Month (www.thryvors.org)
We care about what you care about.