Bill 160, Ontario’s legislation to overhaul workplace health and safety, passed third reading in the provincial legislature on May 18.
The legislation — in response to the recommendations provided by the Expert Panel on Occupational Health and Safety — is the largest revamp of Ontario’s worker safety system in 30 years, the province said. The expert panel, headed by Tony Dean, was put together in the wake of the death of four workers at a Toronto construction site on Christmas eve 2009.
The bill includes a series of amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. The amendments will:
•Establish the Ministry of Labour as the lead for accident prevention, transferring it from the WSIB.
•Appoint a new chief prevention officer to co-ordinate and align the prevention system.
•Create a new prevention council, with representatives from labour, employers, and safety experts, to advise the chief prevention officer and the minister.
The changes also give the Minister of Labour oversight of the province's Health and Safety Associations as well as the education, training and promotion of workplace health and safety, the province said.
The expert panel received more than 400 responses in more than 50 meetings with stakeholders across Ontario. It included representatives from labour, employers and academia.
“We are proposing a road map forward for the future so that this province’s working people have a future free of injury and occupational disease,” said Minister of Labour Charles Sousa during debate on third reading of Bill 160.
Ontario’s annual rate of workplace injuries has dropped about 30 per cent since 2003, he said, but there is “much more to do.”
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