Health and Safety in the Media

Ontario's Health and Safety Training Heading to 21st Century

Online training will save Ontario businesses approximately $5,000,000 -

Ontario's government is working for the people to reduce burdens on job creators, as well as workers by improving training programs that certify those who promote health and safety at workplaces.

Today, Minister Laurie Scott brought Ontario's health & safety training into the 21st century. These changes mean 50,000 Ontario workplaces no longer need to send workers for a five-day classroom course. By cutting red tape, Minister Scott is providing flexibility by making online courses fully available to Ontario businesses, reducing the time needed to take the first part of the course.

Spending up to five days away from family was unfair to Ontario workers and was a major cost to Ontario job creators. Minister Scott is reducing red tape, helping workers and moving Ontario training standards into the 21st century. These changes will save Ontario businesses and other organizations an estimated $5 million per year.

The changes include:

  • promoting flexibility by allowing training to take place solely online for the first part of the learning, in addition to classroom, blended and distance learning
  • simplifying the requirements by removing complicated rules and red tape
  • extending the time to complete the second part of training to within a year of completing the first part, providing more time for employers to schedule training

"I am committed to creating fair and competitive processes for business, dynamic labour markets and safe workplaces for every worker in Ontario," said Laurie Scott, Minister of Labour. "Our government will make Ontario Open for Business and Open for Jobs by making our province the best jurisdiction in North America to recruit, retain and reward the workers of today and tomorrow."

Allowing the option of training to take place solely online - in addition to the existing options of classroom, distance and blended learning - reduces travel and accommodation costs for businesses. Businesses will no longer have to pay for travel and accommodation costs for employees to travel for up to five days to take in-person training. These changes will reduce burdens and costs to businesses, while ensuring standardized high-quality training is accessible to all workers across Ontario.

"Joint health and safety committees are a cornerstone of a well-functioning workplace internal responsibility system. These improvements will help workplaces promote a strong health and safety culture by meeting the needs of both employers and workers," said Ron Kelusky, Ontario's Chief Prevention Officer.

Ontario Enhancing Workplace Health and Safety Increases to Maximum Fines Will Strengthen Compliance

Ontario is enhancing protection for workers by increasing the maximum fines for individuals and businesses that don't meet workplace health and safety standards.

As of December 14, 2017, the maximum fines for an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act increased from:

  • $25,000 to $100,000 for an individual or unincorporated business (which had not changed since 1979)
  • $500,000 to $1,500,000 for corporations (which had not changed since 1990)

Ontario also changed the time limit to allow for prosecution, from one year from the date of the offence, to one year from the date an inspector becomes aware of an alleged offence.
Protecting workers and supporting business is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of Medicare in a generation.

MOL clarifies definition of critical injury

The Ministry of Labour takes the position that the fracture of more than one finger or more than one toe does constitute a critical injury if it is an injury of a serious nature.

New requirements for workplace sexual harassment

Bill 132 (Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act ) brings amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act that come into force on September 8, 2016. The OHSA has been amended to include a definition of workplace sexual harassment as a component of workplace harassment.

​There are new requirements for programs that implement a workplace harassment policy. There are additional duties for employers to protect workers from workplace harassment.  A Ministry of Labour inspector could order an employer to cause an investigation of workplace harassment to be conducted by a third-party person.

Click on Workplace Violence/MOL for more information.

Student Teachers and Co-op Students are Workers under the OHSA

Student teachers and co-op students are now defined as “workers” under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  During their placements, they have the same rights and responsibilities for health and safety as any paid worker in the school board.

It is really important for co-op students and student teachers to understand that their workplace supervisor for health and safety is the principal. The principal must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of all workers – including these young workers.  The associate teacher who mentors the student teacher and the elementary teacher who hosts the co-op student are workers who are taking on voluntary professional roles. Student teachers and co-op students have been included as workers under the OHSA to improve their health and safety during their workplace placements.

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