Ontario has passed legislation bringing significant changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Bill 177, Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017 is in force as of December 14, 2017.
The landmark legislation is an important turning point in the history of Ontario's OHSA, which has not seen such sweeping changes since 1990.
Individuals are now liable to a fine of up to $100,000, quadrupled from $25,000. The maximum fine for corporations is increased threefold from $500,000 to $1.5 million. The 25% surcharge, required under the Provincial Offences Act, is added to the penalties. Jail sentences for individuals remain unchanged.
The other amendments are as follows:
- Amendments to Limitation Period: Up until now, the limitation period for laying charges under the OHSA or its Regulations has been one year from the date of the alleged contravention. Bill 177 has revised the Act with respect to limitation periods. The limitation period now includes the day upon which an inspector becomes aware of the alleged offence. This legislative change effectively expands the 1 year limitation period, for instance, if an inspector becomes aware of circumstances providing a basis for an alleged contravention, if it occurred more than one year ago.
- Reporting Requirements for Structural Inadequacies: Require an employer to notify a Director under the Act if a committee or a health and safety representative has identified potential structural inadequacies of a workplace as a source of danger or hazard to workers.
- New Reportable Incidents: Allow for regulations to expand the circumstances in which persons are required to report an accident or other incident under section 53 of the Act and to require additional notices to be provided in the circumstances described in sections 51, 52 and 53 of the Act.