At the end of 2017, Bill 177, the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017, received Royal Assent. Bill 177 amended several statutes, including the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, the Pension Benefits Act and the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act.
Bill 177 also made significant changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Most notably, Bill 177 overhauled the OHSA’s sentencing regime by changing fine limits that have been in place for decades. Up until the amendments, the maximum fines that individuals and corporations faced were $25,000 and $500,000 respectively. Those limits were dramatically increased to $100,000 for individuals and $1,500,000 for corporations.
Bill 177 also extended the limitation period for the filing of charges under the OHSA. Prior to the amendments, the statute required that charges be laid within a year of the date of an incident. Now a discoverability component has been added, and charges can be laid within a year of an inspector becoming aware of an alleged offence. This effectively extended the limitation period for an indefinite period and, as a result, will affect the way in which companies manage risk.
The new law also changed employers’ reporting obligations. While employers have always had to notify the Ministry of Labour of certain accidents and when certain substances are used at a workplace, they must now notify the MOL when joint health and safety committees or representatives identify potential structural inadequacies in a workplace that could be a source of danger to workers.
These amendments came into force on December 14, 2017.
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