Ontario amends acts affecting injured workers, firefighters, survivor beneficiaries

Province strengthening employee rights

Ontario has passed legislation to amend three labour-related acts under the 2015 Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act to further strengthen the rights of injured workers, firefighters and survivor beneficiaries across the province.

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, the Fire Prevention and Protection Act and Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act will be amended to the following:

• Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) survivor benefits will be calculated based on the average earnings, at the time of diagnosis of the deceased worker's occupation, rather than current legislated minimum.

• Workers will be allowed to report a workplace injury or illness to the WSIB without employer interference.

• Maximum corporate penalties will be increased from $100,000 to $500,000 for conviction of an offence under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, such as knowingly providing a false or misleading statement to the board.

• The WSIB board of directors will have to appoint a fair practices commissioner to act as an ombudsman for injured workers, employers and WSIB service providers.

• The potential for disruption and delay for workers in the broader public sector will be reduced when there are changes to bargaining units following certain events such as amalgamations or restructurings.

• More dispute resolution tools will be provided for the professional fire services sector by allowing labour relations disputes to be heard by the Ontario Labour Relations Board as opposed to the Ontario Courts.

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