The effect of the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017 (“Bill 177”), which received royal assent on December 14, 2017, is far reaching as it introduces changes to a number of statutes. The Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”), the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act (“BPSECA”), the Pension Benefits Act (“PBA”) and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (“WSIA”) are all amended as a result of Bill 177. This post outlines some of the changes to the affected statutes.
Amendments to the OHSA
One key amendment is the increased limit of fines under section 66 of the OHSA. For individuals and corporations, fines have increased from $25,000 to $100,000 and $500,000 to $1,500,000, respectively. The limitation period, in which charges may be filed under section 69 of the OHSA, has been amended to the later of either one year of the act of default or one year from when the inspector learns of the alleged offence.
Amendments to the BPSECA
On December 14, 2017, amendments to the BPSECA came into effect. One amendment includes a change to the definition of “Minister” under the BPSECA. The definition has been altered to provide Ministers of Ministries that are governing a broader public sector organization with the ability to act under the BPSECA. Further, compensation frameworks may now grant a Minister the power to make specific decisions on a case-dependent basis.
Amendments to the PBA
The Superintendent is now required to establish, maintain and operate an electronic registry relating to beneficiaries who are missing. With regard to the electronic registry, an administrator will have to inform the Superintendent, in the manner approved by the Superintendent, within a reasonable time if a beneficiary is missing or if a missing beneficiary has been found. After receiving such notice, the Superintendent will be required to update the relevant information in the registry if the Superintendent is satisfied that there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the beneficiary is missing. Another responsibility of the Superintendent relates to when a party makes a request for information in the registry. In such cases, if the Superintendent is satisfied that the party seeking the information is a beneficiary recorded in the registry or an authorized agent of a beneficiary, the Superintendent shall give that person the information in the registry that pertains to the beneficiary.
Amendments to the WSIA
Benefits for mental stress are now available under the WSIA. Bill 177 implemented transitional rules, which became effective on January 1, 2018. These transitional rules involve the determination of mental stress claims. First, if a worker’s mental stress occurs on or after April 29, 2014 and the worker has not filed a claim in respect of entitlement to benefit for mental stress before January 1, 2018, then these claims may be filed any time before July 1, 2018. Second, if a claim regarding mental stress was filed within a reasonable time and as on January 1, 2018 was pending before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“Board”), then the new mental stress provisions will be used in adjudication. Third, if a worker or a survivor has filed a claim with the Board for entitlement to benefits for mental stress within the time limits set out and the claim is pending before the Appeals Tribunal on January 1, 2018, the Appeals Tribunal shall refer the claim back to the Board and the Board shall decide the claim in accordance with the WSIA as it reads at the time the Board makes its decision, regardless of the date on which the worker’s mental stress occurred.
Written in collaboration with Monica Wong, articling student.