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Employees deserve the right to go to work each day in a safe and healthy environment. And while we’d hope everyone would agree with that sentiment, throughout the annals of time, history has shown many an employer who felt differently about the well-being of their employers, rather viewing them as a disposable commodity that could turn a tidy profit. It was employers like these that spurred governments to put into place legislature that was geared towards the protection of employees.

In Ontario, that piece of legislature is known as the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Originally coming into force back in 1979, the Act, to this day, continues to change and evolve as new pieces of legislature and statutes are introduced. And as is the nature of the Ontario government, they wouldn’t want a new year to begin without a fresh new bill coming into effect that would cause some significant changes to not only the Occupational Health and Safety Act, but also transitional updates to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. That bill is known as Bill 177, or the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017, an omnibus bill that has the potential to impact your business.

These are some of the major changes that could potentially impact your business:

  1. Because of Bill 177, convictions under the OHSA have an increased maximum fine for corporations from $500,000 per offence to $1,500,000, and from $25,000 per offence to $100,000 for individuals. From this action, one may think the courts will be gearing up for heavier fines against serious or repeat offenders.
  2. Previously, the limitations period for bringing prosecution under the OHSA was “(a) the occurrence of the last act or default upon which the prosecution is based; or (b) the day upon which an inspector becomes aware of the alleged offence,” and now has been increased to a set one year.
  3. By law, employers will now be required to contact the Ministry of Labour and notify them if health and safety representatives have “identified potential structural inadequacies of a workplace as a source of danger or hazard to workers.”
  4. Under section 53 of the Act, employers will now have an increased expectation for reporting accidents and incidents.
  5. Under Bill 177, employees who suffered a chronic mental stress injury between April 29, 2014 and January 2, 2018, will be given until July 1, 2018, to file a claim.

What Should You Do?

Anytime the Ontario government makes changes to employment law, it will undoubtedly have a direct impact on an employer. However, these changes need not cost you exorbitant legal counsel fees, rather, partnering with an employment professional can help you navigate these changes with little to no impact on your business. While choosing the right firm can help any business grow with the right workforce, it should also be noted their expertise in employment goes well beyond that of staffing. From legal changes on a municipal, provincial and even federal level, partnering with the agency can help ensure your business is protected, as well as law abiding.

The landscape of employment law is in constant flux in Ontario, which can often leave employers at a disadvantage. That is why partnering with the right staffing professionals is so vital to navigating these changes as they occur. Contact Employment Professionals Canada today and learn the difference that having a trusted and experienced employment partner can have on your business.


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