Ontario beefs up safety standards for construction workers

Changes to Workplace Safety and Insurance Act would take three years to come into effect

The Ontario government is making workers' compensation coverage mandatory for individuals working in the construction industry who are not currently covered.

The proposed legislation would make it mandatory to extend benefits and services contained in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to independent operators and some other individuals in the industry.

Once passed by the legislature, the proposed amendments would come into effect three years later, which would enable the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to develop systems to support the proposed changes.

Individuals would have access to financial compensation for lost earnings, coverage for certain health-care costs and job retraining services.

But mandatory coverage won't help individuals who work in the underground economy and will only serve to penalize the above-ground operators and expose the WSIB to more unfounded claims for benefits, said Judith Andrew, director of provincial affairs at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

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