Bill 35 modifying Quebec’s occupational health and safety regime was passed by the National Assembly and assented to on June 10, 2009.
The Bill amends the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases (the “AIAOD”) to increase certain death benefits and to provide for the payment of a lump sum indemnity to the children of a worker who, at the time of death, did not have a spouse.
The AIAOD is also amended by adding the right to a new indemnity payable to the succession of the deceased worker if both parents are also deceased. In this respect, it should be noted that until now the right to indemnities was considered a personal right of the worker or certain expressly designated persons such as the worker’s children or parents or persons he or she was supporting.
The amendments to the AIAOD, more specifically the right to certain new indemnities, represent significant amounts that will be assigned to your financial file as an employer.
The Bill also amends the AIAOD by simplifying the payment of the employer assessment under that Act. This new provision provides that, as a general rule, periodic payments of the assessment are to be made to the Minister of Revenue under the same terms and conditions as those applying to payroll deductions and other employer contributions.
In addition, the Bill amends the Act respecting occupational health and safety (the “AOHS”) by adding section 51.1, which provides that “a person who, although not an employer, retains the services of a worker for the purposes of his establishment must fulfill the obligations imposed on an employer by this Act .” This new provision applies among other things to a situation where a company operates an establishment using workers from a personnel agency and, without being the employer of these workers, retains their services for the purposes of its establishment. From now on, that company, that is to say, the client of the personnel agency, will be required to respect the obligations imposed on an employer pursuant to the AOHS. It will be interesting to see how the courts will interpret this new provision in the coming years.
Finally, the Bill also amends sections 236 and 237 of the AOHS to progressively increase fines, which will double as of January 1, 2010 and triple as of January 1, 2011. For a first offence under section 236 of the AOHS, an individual is liable to a minimum fine of $600 (previously $200) and a corporation is liable to a minimum fine of $1,500 (previously $500). With respect to a first offence under section 237 of the AOHS, an individual is liable to a minimum fine of $1,500 (previously $500) and a corporation is liable to a minimum fine of $15,000 (previously $5,000). Fines for subsequent offences have also been increased significantly. The amount of the fines will be revalorized on January 1 of every year, starting on January 1, 2012.