OHS Canada Magazine

Ontario to allow electronic copies of OHSA, virtual JHSC meetings as part of legislative overhaul

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May 6, 2024
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety

Queen’s Park in Toronto. Photo: Spiroview Inc./Adobe Stock

Ontario has unveiled its latest slate of workplace changes, and the proposed rules have a number of items of interest to workplace safety professionals.

First up, the province is improving presumptive coverage to firefighters, fire investigators and volunteers for primary-site skin cancer by lowering the required duration of service 15 years to 10 years, bringing Ontario to the lowest required duration of service in the country, it said.

It is also expanding presumptive coverage for occupational cancers, heart injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to wildland firefighters and fire investigators to ensure they have the same presumptive coverage as municipal firefighters do.

Electronic copies of OHSA, virtual JHSC meetings allowed

The changes will also allow for electronic copies of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to meet posting requirements and allowing joint health and safety committee meetings to be held virtually.

It will also launch a consultation to consider expanding the types of workers who would be presumptively entitled to benefits for PTSD, under the WSIA, to further support workers who may be regularly affected by traumatic situations in their job.


CPO to focus on construction sector

Led by the Chief Prevention Officer, there will be a review of the causes of critical injuries and fatalities in the construction sector, as well as a consultation on expanding the types of health and safety equipment to be provided on construction projects, to inform future prevention strategies, it said.

It will also incorporate asbestos-related data into the ministry’s forthcoming occupational exposure registry.

Banning sick notes

The province said it is “putting patients before paperwork” by prohibiting employers from requiring a sick note from a medical professional for a worker’s job-protected sick leave under the Employment Standards Act (ESA).

To maintain accountability in the office without creating unnecessary paperwork for healthcare professionals, employers can still request another form of evidence that is reasonable in the circumstances, such as an attestation, it said. Future ministry guidance would be developed to inform this.

“This complements the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) efforts to collaborate with health sector organizations as they explore additional measures to reduce the administrative burden for sick or injured workers and healthcare professionals,” it said.

Menstrual products on construction sites

If passed, Ontario would require menstrual products on construction projects with 20 or more regularly employed workers and where the project is expected to last at least three months.

It will also require washrooms provided to workers to be clean and sanitary, and will ensure accountability by requiring employers to maintain records of cleaning as prescribed by the regulations.

“This is in direct response to advocacy from tradeswomen and other sector stakeholders who have cited better washroom facilities as a key policy to encourage more women to join the building trades,” it said.


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