On December 14, 2017, Bill 177, the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017 received Royal Assent and became law in Ontario. Bill 177 is omnibus legislation which, among other things, includes several changes relating to the enforcement of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”) and amends the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (the “WSIA”) to include transition provisions for Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“WSIB”) benefits claims due to chronic mental stress. The Bill 177 changes to the OHSA came into force on December 14, 2017, while the WSIA amendments will come into effect on January 1, 2018.
One of the key changes Bill 177 made to the OHSA is to significantly increase potential penalties for violations of the OHSA. Bill 177 increased the current maximum fines under the OHSA from $25,000 to $100,000 for individuals and from $500,000 to $1,500,000 for corporations.
Bill 177 also extended the limitation period for filing charges under the OHSA. Before Bill 177, a prosecution under the OHSA had to be commenced within one year of the alleged violation of the OHSA. Bill 177 has changed the date by which a prosecution must be commenced to the later of the one year after the date of the alleged violation or one year after the date that a Ministry of Labour Occupational Health and Safety Inspector became aware of the alleged offence. This extension means that, in certain limited circumstances, prosecutions will be permitted to be commenced years after the alleged offence occurred, which will lead to increased uncertainty for employers.
Bill 177 also amended the OHSA to include a new specific duty for employers to notify the Ministry of Labour if the joint health and safety committee or representative, as applicable, has identified potential structural inadequacies of a building, structure, or any part thereof, or any other part of a workplace, whether temporary or permanent, as a source of danger or hazard to workers….Read More