The Ontario government has introduced legislation to triple the maximum fine under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) against corporations to $1.5 million per charge, and quadruple the maximum fine against individual persons — such as workers, supervisors or directors — to $100,000 per charge.
The proposed amendments are, one might say, buried in Schedule 30 to Bill 177 that would implement certain “budget measures." Perhaps for that reason, they have received very little attention. The bill is called, Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017.
The bill received second reading on Nov. 30 and has now been referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.
The bill would also change the limitation period for laying charges under the OHSA, which is currently one year. The new limitation period would be the later of one year or “the day upon which an inspector becomes aware of the alleged offence.” That seems to mean that for accidents that employers are not required to report to the Ministry of Labour, the limitation period would continue running until the MOL finds out about the accident, which could be years later when an inspector drops in for an inspection of the workplace.
Adrian Miedema is a partner in the Toronto Employment Group of Dentons Canada LLP. He advises and represents public- and private-sector employers in employment, health and safety and human rights matters. He appears before employment tribunals and all levels of the Ontario courts on behalf of employers. He also advises employers on strategic and risk management considerations in employment policy and contracts. For more information, visit www.dentons.com or www.occupationalhealthandsafetylaw.com.