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[HR] Ontario Enhances Workplace Health and Safety

The province of Ontario has increased the maximum fines for an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), to strengthen compliance.

As of December 14, 2017, the maximum fines for an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety increased from:

  • $25,000 to $100,000 for an individual or unincorporated business (which had not changed since 1979).
  • $500,000 to $1,500,000 for corporations (which had not changed since 1990).

Ontario has also changed the time limit to allow for prosecution, from one year from the date of the offence, to one year from the date an inspector becomes aware of an alleged offence.

A couple of interesting facts:

  • In 2016-17, Ministry of Labour health and safety inspectors conducted more than 79,800 visits to more than 34,700 workplaces, and issued more than 118,000 orders because of non-compliance with Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
  • In 2016, the courts imposed more than $11 million in fines and entered more than 2,200 convictions against workplace parties for contraventions of the OHSA and its regulations.

According to Kevin Flynn, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, “Ontario has one of the best worker safety records in Canada. Despite this, people continue to lose their lives or get seriously injured in workplaces every day. By increasing the fines for non-compliance, the province is  sending a clear message to all employers and workers that it is serious about enforcing workplace health and safety.”

These changes are aimed at protecting workers and supporting business and are part of the province’s greater plan to create fairness and opportunity in this climate of rapid economic change. The plan, as outlined in Bill 148, also includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions overall.