Ottawa Human Rights and Labour Day Conference - Day 1

Printer-friendly version
Event date: 
Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 09:00 to 15:45
Name of Organization: 
Lancaster House Publishing
Ottawa, ON

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Registration and Breakfast8:00 AM - 9:00 AM Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs9:00 AM - 9:10 AM 

Panel 1

Taking Stock, Looking Ahead: Major caselaw and legislative update

9:10 AM - 10:30 AM 

Heather CameronEmployer CounselNorton Rose Fulbright

Wassim GarzouziUnion CounselRaven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck

PANEL SUMMARYExperienced advocates will review the year's most important cases and legislative developments and flag significant litigation and legislative reforms on the horizon. Topics to be addressed will include recent developments in the law of harassment, the latest word on family status accommodation, and the most up-to-the-minute labour arbitration and labour law cases. Final selection of topics will take place a few weeks before the conference, ensuring coverage of the year's latest and most important developments.

BREAK (with refreshments)10:30 AM - 10:45 AM 

Panel 2

Federal Focus: Spotlight on changes to federal workplace laws

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM 

Christopher Rootham

Union CounselNelligan O'Brien Payne

TBAEmployer Counsel TBA


Top experts will review the many significant legislative changes and labour law reforms which have taken place in the federal sector over the past year, including the development of a new pay equity regime, major labour standards reforms and Canada Labour Code changes, and developments in federal harassment and violence prevention laws. The panel will also flag impending legislative reforms on the horizon, including the findings of the expert panel on complex workplace issues facing Canadian employers and workers, and its implications. Final selection of topics will take place a few weeks before the conference, ensuring the most up-to-date coverage of recent changes to federal workplace laws.


12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Panel 3

Closing the Divide: Innovative strategies for confronting racial discrimination and supporting a diverse workforce1:00 PM - 2:15 PM 

Patricia HarewoodCoordinator, Oppression PreventionPublic Service Alliance of Canada

Hindia MohamoudDirectorOttawa Local Immigration Partnership

TBAEmployer Counsel TBA


Given widespread recognition of the advantages associated with diversity, most organizations have taken steps to promote diversity in the workplace. Yet conventional workplace diversity programs and policies have not always proven successful, and many people still experience racial discrimination and other barriers to inclusion in hiring and employment. In this session, experts will provide insight into practical measures that employers and unions may take to confront racial discrimination and support a diverse workforce.

  • Understanding diversity: What constitutes a diverse workforce? What are the benefits of diversity in the workplace? How does diversity affect productivity? Do organizations with diverse workforces have a competitive advantage?
  • Barriers in recruitment and hiring: How can employers improve recruitment and hiring practices to build a more diverse workforce? What barriers may diverse applicants encounter in recruitment and hiring processes? How does an employer's duty to accommodate apply during the hiring process?
  • Inclusivity at work: What is an inclusive workplace? What factors contribute to an inclusive workplace? What is unconscious bias, and what is its effect on the workplace? Can diversity and inclusion training help employers and unions create a more inclusive workplace?
  • Communication and conflict: What types of communication challenges may arise in a diverse workplace? How can employers and unions facilitate collaboration and improve communication between diverse employees? What are effective approaches to conflict management and resolution in a diverse workplace?
  • Addressing racism, discrimination, and harassment: In addition to complying with relevant obligations under existing legislation, what steps can employers and unions take to prevent or respond to racism, discrimination, and harassment in the workplace? How can employers create a respectful organizational culture and working environment?
  • Retention: What types of strategies are effective for retaining a diverse workforce? What factors influence diverse employees' decisions to stay at or leave an organization? Why might a diverse workforce be unresponsive to traditional retention strategies? What steps should employers take to address high rates of turnover among diverse employees?

BREAK (with refreshments)2:15 PM - 2:30 PM 

Panel 4

When Rights Collide: Addressing competing rights in the workplace

2:30 PM - 3:45 PM 

Isabelle RoyGeneral Counsel and Chief of Labour Relations ServicesProfessional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC)

Richard SinclairManager of Legal Services and Labour RelationsOttawa-Carleton District School Board

PANEL SUMMARYWhile the saying "your rights end where mine begin" might sound simple enough, the task of figuring out how to balance one party's human rights claims against another person's legally protected rights creates daunting challenges for employers and unions. In this session, experienced adjudicators will draw from scenarios inspired by real cases to explore the appropriate process for assessing, handling, and resolving competing claims, addressing issues such as:

  • What are the main legal principles that should be considered when competing rights situations arise in the workplace?
  • How should employers and unions address an employee's request for disability or family status accommodation that conflicts with another employee's rights under a collective agreement, such as seniority rights? In what circumstances will an accommodation measure that interferes with collective agreement rights be found to constitute undue hardship?
  • What steps should be taken by workplace parties in cases of conflict between accommodation requests, for example, where one employee's request for disability accommodation conflicts with another employee's family status accommodation? Should seniority play any role in resolving such conflicts in a unionized workplace?
  • Are there any alternative dispute resolution models or informal resolution processes that should be considered when resolving competing rights claims?
  • How much information can be disclosed to co-workers without violating an employee's privacy?