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Suspended or Not? Limitation Periods in Employment Law

On March 30, 2020, Ministerial Order 27/2020 from the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General suspended limitation periods and periods of time within which any step must be taken in any proceeding or intended proceeding, from March 17 to June 1, 2020, due to COVID-19. However, this Ministerial Order and the associated suspension of relevant timelines does not apply equally to all labour and employment matters.

The Minister of Justice has authority to suspend the operation of limitations periods on statutes within his portfolio (such as the Provincial Court Act, Court of Queen’s Bench Act or Human Rights Act) but this authority does not extend to statutes in the portfolio of other ministers (such as the Labour Relations Code or Employment Standards Code).

Accordingly, limitations periods and periods of time within which any step must be taken are suspended in:

  • civil claims (e.g. wrongful dismissal or constructive dismissal claims in the Provincial Court of Alberta or the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench); and
  • human rights complaints before the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Limitation periods are not currently suspended in any legislation under the portfolio of the Minister of Labour and Immigration, which include any matter or complaint before the:

  • Alberta Labour Relations Board,
  • Workers’ Compensation Board,
  • Employment Standards office, or
  • Alberta Occupational Health and Safety.