Back in 2011, Ontario employers learned that the government had passed Bill 160, or An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 with respect to occupational health and safety and other matters.  This Bill represented part of a major overhaul of Ontario’s occupational health and safety system.  Although the Bill received royal assent on June 1, 2011, many of the amendments were not scheduled to come into force until April 1, 2012, or later dates to be proclaimed.  The amendments that came into force on April 1, 2012 include the following: 

  • Section 50 of the OHSA has been amended to permit an inspector to refer matters involving reprisals to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (the “Board”) where the circumstances warrant such a referral, the worker consents, and the matter in question has not been dealt with by way of final and binding arbitration under a collective agreement or by way of a worker complaint to the Board.  
  • Section 50 of the OHSA has also been amended to permit the Office of the Worker Advisor to provide support to non-unionized workers in respect of reprisal complaints.  Similarly, the Office of the Employer Advisor has been granted permission to provide support to employers with less than 100 employees (or such other number as may be prescribed) who are responding to reprisal complaints.  
  • Section 63 of the OHSA has been amended to ensure certain protections for employees of the Office of the Worker Advisor and the Office of the Employer Advisor against their compellability as witnesses in legal proceedings and their obligation to produce the documentation or information they have gathered while acting within the scope of their employment.  
  • Section 65 of the OHSA has been amended to include employees of the Office of the Worker Advisor and the Office of the Employer Advisor in the list of individuals who have immunity from civil proceedings where they have exercised their duties or powers under the OHSA in good faith.  
  • Section 70 of the OHSA has been amended to allow the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to make regulations with respect to the functions of the Office of the Worker Advisor and the Office of the Employer Advisor. For more information, visit our Occupational Health and Safety Law blog at OccupationalHealthandSafetyLaw.com