Workplace injuries and fatalities have become a growing concern in Ontario in recent years. The Minister of Labour (“Minister”) responded to this issue by forming an Expert Advisory Panel (“Panel”) to review Ontario’s current health and safety regulations and make suggestions for statutory and policy improvements. After concluding its review, the Panel provided its report to the Minister setting out 46 recommended changes to how Ontario currently regulates occupational health and workplace safety. It is expected that over the next few years most of these recommendations will be implemented by the government as occupational health and workplace safety undergoes a relatively comprehensive overhaul.
Bill 160, the Occupational Health and Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2011 is the first major step towards this reform. Bill 160, which passed second reading on March 29, 2011, proposes to establish a new procedural framework for Occupational Health and Workplace Safety which includes greater regulation of training standards and establishing enforcement mechanisms to encourage compliance. Key Proposed Amendments under Bill 160:
The Minister will be authorized to establish standards for training programs and standards that must be met for an individual to be recognized as an approved training provider.
The Minister will be authorized to collect information about workers’ successful completion of approved training programs.
The Minister will be authorized to establish standards that must be met in order to become a certified member of a joint health and safety committee.
A constructor or an employer will be required to provide training to health and safety representatives.
Where a joint health and safety committee fails to reach a consensus, co-chairs will be allowed to make written recommendations to a constructor or an employer.
A Prevention Council (“Council”) will be created and will be comprised of workers, employers, and occupational health and safety experts. The Council will provide advice to the Minister on the appointment of a Chief Prevention Officer (“CPO”). Additionally, the Council will also be responsible for providing advice to the CPO on occupational health and safety matters.
The CPO will develop a provincial health and safety strategy, write an annual report, and provide advice to the Minister.
Where an employer has commits a reprisal against a worker, an inspector can refer the matter to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (“Board”) for arbitration in circumstances where it is warranted and where certain conditions have been met.
This blog is provided as information and a summary of workplace legal issues.
This information is not intended as legal advice.