In a recent decision, the Superior Court of Quebec addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the contractual obligations of parties to a commercial lease. This decision is likely the first of many to address this increasingly pervasive issue for businesses operating in Quebec.
The forced hiatus in business activity and the economic shock caused by COVID-19 have hit many Quebec business owners hard. The impact is especially heavy for owners saddled with the burden of succession planning and finding no one to take over the reins. Currently, 30 to 60,000 Quebec businesses are in danger of disappearing within five years due to a lack of suitable successors.
Prohibiting genetic discrimination: a valid criminal law subject, according to the Supreme Court of Canada
In a contentious 5-4 split decision, with 3 justices providing the main reasons, 2 justices concurring and 4 judges dissenting, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the Parliament of Canada has the power to prohibit genetic discrimination. Specifically, Justice Karakatsanis found that the purpose of the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act is to ensure that individuals’ genetic test results will not be used against them and to prevent any form of discrimination based on that information. This, according to the Court, falls squarely within Parliament’s criminal law powers under s. 91(27) of the Constitution Act of 1867 because it responds to a threat of harm to several overlapping public interests protected by the criminal law – autonomy, privacy, equality and public health.
The Administrative Tribunal of Québec reconfirms the principles governing reimbursement of legal expenses
It has long been established that a party subject to expropriation is not entitled to the reimbursement of legal fees as damages caused by the expropriation. However, there are two exceptions to this rule: (1) where there has been bad faith or abuse of process by the expropriating party; and (2) where expropriation proceedings have been discontinued. This legal framework was recently reconfirmed by the Administrative Tribunal of Québec in Ferme Ménanmar v. Contrecœur (Ville), 2020 QCTAQ 01777.
Over 890 employers and employees in Quebec have already signed the Charter of Commitment to Combat Coronavirus in the Workplace (the Charter). The Charter was published on the initiative of the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), following consultations with major union and employer representatives.
On June 12, the Quebec government introduced bill 164, An Act to modernize legislative provisions as regards the protection of personal information (“the Bill”), first announced nearly a year ago. Once adopted, the Bill will result in significant changes to various laws in order to modernize the regulatory framework for the protection of personal data in Quebec.
The modernization process will target private and public sector institutions as well as political parties, and will require compliance efforts by all these organizations. Indeed, the nature of the new requirements and the hefty penalties for violations mean that privacy protection can no longer be ignored with impunity.