OHS Canada Magazine

New legislation now in effect meant to create healthier, safer workplaces

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January 4, 2021
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Human Resources Legislation Canada editor pick harassment Legislation violence

Making workplaces healthier, safer and fairer will provide Canadians with a real chance to succeed, said Labour Minister Filomena Tassi in a Jan. 1 press release.

“The regulatory changes coming into force today will create work environments in which federally regulated workers will be better able to achieve their potential. These changes will benefit workers, employers, the economy and all Canadians.”

The following federal legislative and regulatory changes have come into force in Canada as of Jan. 1:

Strengthening prevention of harassment and violence in the workplace

The anti-harassment and violence legislation (Bill C-65) puts in place a regime that takes all forms of harassment and violence into consideration.

Employers in federally regulated workplaces and parliamentary workplaces must conduct a workplace assessment, develop a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy, develop and implement violence and harassment training, and establish a thorough process for dealing with incidents.


Improving compliance with the Code

The new Part IV (Administrative Monetary Penalties) of the Code establishes an administrative monetary penalties system, which penalizes employers who do not comply with the Code’s health and safety or labour standards.

Employers who do not comply with the Code’s occupational health and safety or labour standards provisions could face a monetary penalty of up to $250,000.

Monetary penalties will be calculated based on the type of violation, the size of the business and any previous monetary penalties for violations of the same or higher classification.

To provide employers with more time to adjust to these changes, monetary penalties for administrative violations—for example, record keeping and reporting requirements — will not be imposed until Jan. 1, 2022.

Enhancing equality in the workplace

The amendments to the Employment Equity Regulations introduce new pay transparency measures to raise awareness of the wage gaps experienced by women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities in federally regulated workplaces. With the leadership of employers, we expect these measures to help shift business culture and expectations toward greater equality and better outcomes for workers and their families.

The first release of aggregated wage gap information is expected in the winter of 2023.

The new Part IV of the Code also brought into force the following:

    • Compliance orders: a new enforcement tool under Part III (Labour Standards) of the Code. Compliance orders require employers to cease a contravention and take the specified steps within a stated period.
    • Provision to prohibit misclassification of employees: a new Code provision that prohibits employers from treating employees as though they are not employees (for example, classifying an employee as an independent contractor) and requires employers to prove otherwise if a complaint is filed under Part III of the Code.
    • New Head of Compliance and Enforcement: the new Head exercises the powers and performs the duties and functions related to day-to-day administration and enforcement of Part II (Occupational Health and Safety), Part III (Labour Standards) and Part IV (Administrative Monetary Penalties) of the Code.


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