On April 23, 2009, the Minister of Labour, Mr. David Whissell, introduced Bill 35 to modify the occupational health and safety regime. Although the Bill introduces a number of changes to both the Act respecting occupational health and safety (the « Health and Safety Act ») and the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases (the «Industrial Accidents Act »), of major interest to the employer are the following changes.

Bill 35 proposes to modify the Health and Safety Act to significantly increase fines to be paid for violations of the Act. The amount of the fine would be doubled as of January 1, 2010 and would then triple as of January 1, 2011. For instance, the legal person who is found guilty of having done anything that directly and seriously compromises the health, safety or physical well-being of a worker (article 237) would be liable of a minimum fine of $15,000 up to $60,000 for a first offence; of no less than $30,000 up to $150,000 in case of a second offence and of a fine of no less than $60,000 but no more than $300,000 for any subsequent offence.

The Bill further proposes to ease the payment of an employer’s assessment under the Industrial Accidents Act. More specifically, the Bill provides that the assessment would be paid in periodic installments to the Minister of Revenue under the same terms applying to payroll deductions.