Bill 168—Where Are We Now?

In June 2010 PEO Canada distributed the “Employer’s Guide to Compliance” outlining the necessary requirements for Bill 168, which came into affect on June 15, 2010. Over the past few months the Ministry of Labour has conducted numerous workplace visits to determine whether or not organizations have complied with the new regulations. During this time over 1,500 orders issued in regards to non-compliance.

The article below was taken from © Morneau Sobeco, October 14, 2010 | Volume 7, Issue 10 newsletter regarding implications of not complying with Bill 168.

Earlier in the year, News & Views provided an overview of Bill 168, an Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) in Ontario. The bill came into force on June 15, 2010.

Through this bill, “workplace violence” and “workplace harassment” received broader definitions to encompass a greater array of situations. In light of these new definitions and other requirements of the bill, employers must review their policies and programs and ensure that their workplaces are compliant. Non-compliant organizations face strict penalties.

During workplace visits, inspectors from the Ministry of Labour (MOL) can now routinely question both employees and employers about their policies and programs with regard to Bill 168. This includes questions related to:

  • knowledge (are employees able to define violence and harassment);
  • processes for reporting and investigating complaints;
  • accountability for building a safe and respectful workplace; and
  • how employees access support programs (internal or external, e.g. Employee Assistance Programs).

In the two months following the date the bill came into force the number of orders issued for non-compliance exceeded 1,800. The greatest area of non-compliance was related to workplace policies (over 700 orders issued).

Organizations that receive work orders are often given three to four weeks to comply. Some organizations have begun to look for outside expertise and assistance in order to become compliant and/or to comply with work orders issued due to their complexity and tight timelines.

Failing to comply with a work order can result in fines and penalties of up to $25,000, 12 months imprisonment, or both, for individuals, and up to $500,000 for corporate employers.

MOL site visits can be conducted proactively (usually to industries considered “high risk”):

  • after a report of violence or harassment;
  • in response to information provided by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board based on claims; or
  • following tips from employees, contractors or union representatives (even if they are anonymously submitted)

While it is too early to know if Bill 168 will have the same success as other provinces that have enacted comparable workplace violence and harassment legislation, such as Alberta and Quebec, it is obvious that the MOL and its 430 inspectors are serious in their efforts to ensure that Ontario’s legislation achieves its objectives.

This chart shows the number of orders issued from June 15, 2010 – August 17, 2010

OHSA Section Pertaining to Number of Orders Issued Number of Workplaces
32.0.1 Policy 741 470
32.0.2 Program (general) 213 199
32.0.3 Risk assessment (violence) 260 237
32.0.4 Domestic violence1 2 2
32.0.5 Training (violence) 244 242
32.0.6 Program (harassment) 182 174
32.0.7 Training (harassment) 205 204
43(3)(b.1) Work refusal (violence)2 0 0

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