BILL 177 WILL EXPONENTIALLY INCREASE MAXIMUM FINES UNDER OHSA AND EXTEND MOL’S ABILITY TO INVESTIGATE AND LAY CHARGES BEYOND CURRENT STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.
On November 14, 2017, the Ontario Government introduced Bill 177, the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures) 2017. The Bill proposes to amend 45 separate statutes. It is anticipated that this Bill will be passed before the end of the current session of the Legislature.
This Bill proposes important amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”).
Occupational Health and Safety Act
Schedule 30 of Bill 177 will amend the OHSA. The Schedule comes into force on the day that the Bill receives Royal Assent.
Section 66 of the OHSA sets out the penalties for conviction of an offence under the Act. Currently, the maximum penalty for an individual is a fine of $25,000 or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both. Bill 177 will increase the maximum fine to $100,000. Although this penalty has not been increased since 1990, it is hard to imagine any individual who could sustain a fine of $100,000.
The current maximum fine for a corporation is $500,000. Bill 177 will increase this maximum fine to $1.5 MILLION. The scale of this increase is stunning.
Bill 177 will also create additional obligations on a person to provide a notice to the Ministry of Labour under section 53 respecting accidents at project sites, mines and mining plants. For example, a constructor will now be required to provide a notice of accident at a project site.
Finally, the one year limitation period required for the Crown to commence a prosecution will be extended from the date of the alleged default to the latter of one year from the date of violation and the date a Ministry of Labour Inspector becomes aware of alleged violations. This will enable Inspectors to receive and investigate new evidence even if it’s years later.