The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that independent contractors must be counted when determining if an employer has met the threshold number of employees required to establish a Joint Health and Safety Committee ("JHSC") under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act ("OHSA").
In Ontario (Labour) v. United Independent Operators Limited (pdf), United Independent Operators Limited ("United") was charged with failing to ensure that a JHSC was established and maintained at its workplace. United operated as a load broker and retained independent truck drivers to perform work. It argued that it was not required to establish a JHSC because its independent contractors were not "regularly employed" and section 9 of the OHSA only required an employer to establish a JHSC where 20 or more employees are "regularly employed". The Court of Appeal rejected this argument and found that independent contractors are "regularly employed". The Court noted that making a distinction between traditional and non-traditional employment relationships would deprive workers in non-traditional relationships of the protections afforded by a JHSC and would be contrary to the purposes of the OHSA.