Employer on the hook for health premium

Ontario court upholds arbitrator’s decision, section of collective agreement unchanged since 1980 means employer has to foot the bill
|Canadian Employment Law Today

The health premium introduced by the Ontario government in 2004 was meant to be a tax on employees, not employers, to help fund the province’s cash-strapped health-care system. But a handful of arbitrators have ruled the language in some collective agreements leaves some unionized employers on the hook for the premium.

The Ontario Divisional Court heard an appeal from Lapointe-Fisher Nursing Home in Guelph, Ont. The employer was appealing an arbitrator’s decision that it had to pay the premium for workers covered by a collective agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

The critical part of the agreement was a section that was first negotiated in 1980. It said the employer agreed to pay 100 per cent of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) premiums for all full-time employees and 50 per cent of the premiums for part-time employees as long as the worker was the principle breadwinner in their family.