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Ontario introduces bill to strengthen occupational health and safety laws [CA]

On July 16, 2014 Ontario introduced the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014 (the Bill), which passed the first reading. The Bill revises both the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act).

Ontario introduced the Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014 in the Ontario legislature on July 16, 2014. An important piece of the Bill provides unpaid interns or workers protection under the OHS Act. Last year, Ontario determined that interns are not covered under the OHS Act because the OHS Act only protects workers who perform “work or supplies services for monetary compensation.” To expand OHS Act protections to unpaid interns and trainees Ontario proposes revising the definition of “worker” in the OHS Act. Workers would now include students working under an unpaid school internship, a person who receives training from an employer with but is not considered an employee under the Employment Standards Act, or any other people who perform work for no monetary compensation. Changing the definition will ensure that unpaid workers are protected by the OHS Act and its regulations.

In addition to the changes to the OHS Act, the Employment Standards Act would be changed by eliminating the $10,000 cap on the recovery of unpaid wages, increase the time period for employees to recover unpaid wages to two years, require employers to provide copies of the most recent poster regarding the Employment Standards Act, make temporary staffing agencies and employers jointly and severally liable for unpaid wages, and tie future minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index.

The Bill has only been introduced to the Ontario legislature and has not been passed yet.

Sources : Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014

External links :

Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014

Zoe McKnight, Young, unpaid workers face thin protections under Ontario law, The Toronto Star, October 17, 2013

Matthew Curtis, Significant changes proposed to Ontario’s workplace laws, Lexology, July 21, 2014

Red-on-line EHS Legal Counsel.

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