Canadian attorneys Dan Black and Karen Bock presented a report at the annual Davis LLP Toronto Employment and Labour Law Conference on May 10, 2013, which does a great job of examining the changing workplace environment, the role and effect of stress in the workplace, and the laws which apply to such issues.

Noting that Canadian laws “are undergoing a slow but certain evolution in the way that mental health issues are perceived and addressed,” the authors state that although there is “an increasing focus on violence, harassment and psychological health in the workplace … the fact remains that, in 2013, the majority of Canadian jurisdictions still have little or no legislation specifically aimed at addressing” such issues. They then go on to set forth the types of existing laws which have been adapting “to greater and lesser extents, to address such issues.” These include human rights laws, workers comp laws, and arbitral and labor law, which the report discusses with great thoroughness and helpful citations.

17568955_sThe authors state that “Canadian society is increasingly focused on mental well-being in the workplace. … [but that] Canadian judges appear to be determined to leave it to the Federal and Provincial legislatures to establish legal protections. …”

They conclude with a warning to employers that they would be “well-advised to monitor closely the development and evolution of Canadian legislation and case law respecting workplace mental health issues. The stress of keeping informed … is, surely, less than the stress of engaging, even inadvertently, in conduct that is contrary to law, and having your mistakes scrutinized, itemized and remedied by a court, tribunal or arbitrator.”