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employer rather than imposing obligations on the employer. The common
law, on the other hand, tends to favour the employee by providing for constructive
dismissal, the duty not to withhold work in bad faith or without
justification and a requirement to communicate sound business reasons for
imposing administrative suspension such as temporary layoff. The courts
continue to monitor and correct the imbalance created as a result of temporary
However, it is now time for the legislatures in B.C. and Alberta to step in
and reform their employment standards legislation in order to clarify rights
arising from temporary layoff. It does a disservice to both the employer and
the employee to have to rely on legislation lacking clarity, and to have to
attempt to interpret confusing court decisions in order to make sense of the
legal landscape. But for the helpful guidance in the form of factsheets of the
various provincial employment standards boards and branches, the parties
would suffer even more confusion.
1. RSBC 1996, c 113.
2. BC EST #D171/97.
3. RSA 2000, c E-9.
4. 2004 ABCA 126 Vrana.
5. A preamble in a statute is treated as part of the legislation
itself and may be an aid to interpretation if a
provision of the legislation under consideration is
ambiguous or unclear. See s 12(1) of the Interpretation
Act, RSA 2000, c I-8. A preamble is intended to
assist in explaining the meaning and object of the
legislation. The preamble in the Alberta ESC has
been considered by Alberta courts in the context of
temporary layoff, as discussed below. See Turner v
Uniglobe Custom Travel Ltd, 2005 ABQB 513
Turner; Vrana, supra note 4.
6. In 2016 Premier Rachel Notley vowed to end
Alberta’s dependence on oil, noting that one-fifth of
provincial revenues came from oil and gas royalties
and observing that the province had been on a “royalty
rollercoaster”. See Kenneth Chan, “Premier
Rachel Notley Vows to End Alberta’s Dependence on
Oil in Televised Speech”, Calgary Buzz (7 April
2016), online: <http://calgarybuzz.com/2016/
7. 1995 CanLII 919 (BCSC) Collins.
8. Ibid at para 23.
9. 2009 BCSC 1316 Besse.
10. Ibid at para 72.
11. Ibid at para 80.
12. “Termination of Employment Factsheet”, online:
See also Shafik Bhalloo & Gareth Carline, “Employers
Beware: The Myth of Temporary Layoff May
Result in Wrongful Dismissal Liability”, Kornfeld LLP,
13. See e.g. Hooge v Gillwood Remanufacturing Inc,
2014 BCSC 11; Logan v Numbers Cabaret Ltd (Hamburger
Mary’s), 2016 BCSC 1473.
14. 2016 BCSC 2134 (Chambers) Mahood.
15. Ibid at para 43.
16. Slumber Lodge Motel Corporation Ltd, BC EST
#D171/97; Springfield Autobody Ltd, BC EST
#D566/97; Victoria Limited Editions (Nanaimo) Ltd,
BCEST #D366/98; Re Patricia Ann Wong, BC EST
#D048/99; AVT Audio Visual Telecommunications
Corporation, BC EST #D187/02; Queenship Marine
Construction Ltd, BC EST #D320/03.
17. Daniel Salwas, BC EST #D115/11; D J Weed Busters
Ltd., BC EST #D052/12 at paras 24–25; Rennie
Equipment Inc, BC EST #D072/17 at paras 43–53.
18. Vrana, supra note 4.
19. 2003 ABQB 98 at para 23 (rev’d on other grounds).
20. Ibid at para 25.
21. Vrana, supra note 4 at paras 8, 13.
22. Ibid at para 13.
23. Turner, supra note 5.
24. Ibid at paras 54–55.
25. 1997 1 SCR 846.
26. Ibid at para 33.
27. 2015 SCC 10.
28. Ibid at para 32.
29. Ibid at paras 34–35.
30. Ibid at para 2.
31. Ibid at para 33.
33. Ibid at para 42.
34. Ibid at para 46.
35. Ibid at paras 81, 99.
36. Ibid at para 63.
37. 2016 ONSC 4127 (SCJ).