Ontario proposes moving prevention function to MOL

Move from WSIB recommended by expert panel

Following shortly on the heels of the Expert Panel on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Report, the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) reported it is moving to amend the OHS Act and Workplace Safety and Insurance (WSI) Act to implement the recommended move of prevention functions from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to the MOL.

This is a historic move since the WSIB has had the legal authority for decades to establish and fund safety associations, and to exercise authority over their activities. During the last two decades, the WSIB had taken various steps to try and control the expenses of the safety associations and to try to coordinate their activities.

The latest such move took place only last year when the WSIB amalgamated the safety associations into four ‘divisions’ with an overall policy direction. In effect the WSIB took much greater control over the safety associations than ever before. However, there is still the issue of co-operation and co-ordination between regulatory functions, enforcement and prevention. Other jurisdictions in Canada have tackled this issue by creating single agencies that include prevention, enforcement and compensation.

Regulatory amendments will affect both the OHS Act and the WSI Act. Such amendments will allow the MOL to:

•establish the MOL as the chief prevention function, moving this from the WSIB

•appoint a chief prevention officer

•create a new prevention council, representing labour, employers and safety experts.

Once the above has been established, following legal authority under the OHS Act, this new MOL function can be expected to start implementing other recommendations of the Expert Panel. This will involve further legislative amendments to the OHS Act.

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