Bill 6, The Protection and Compliance Statutes Amendment
Act, 2012 was recently introduced to the Alberta legislature,
and will amend three Acts, including the Occupational Health
and Safety Act and the Safety Codes Act, as part of a
continuing effort by the provincial government to hold employers
accountable for the health and safety of their business
The Occupational Health and Safety Act sets out the
rules which pertain to the health and safety of workers.
Notable amendments to the OH&S Act relate to the introduction
to administrative penalties. Employers, prime contractors,
contractors, suppliers or workers who have failed to comply with a
provision of the OH&S Act, Regulations or Code or an Order
issued by an OH&S officer will be subject to an administrative
penalty not exceeding $10,000, which amount can accumulate on a per
day basis in the case of an ongoing failure to comply. Prior
to the amendment, to enforce compliance with OH&S law, an
officer had the authority to issue an Order. However, if the
Order was not complied with, the only available option was to
pursue a prosecution.
The Safety Codes Act applies to fire protection and applies to
the design, manufacture, construction, installation, operation and
maintenance of buildings, electrical systems, elevating devices,
gas systems, plumbing and private sewage disposal systems and
pressure equipment. Notable amendments include: the
introduction of a three year limitation period for prosecution of
offences under the Act, rather than relying upon the six months
available under the Provincial Offences Procedures Act; increasing
the maximum potential fine for a first offence from $15,000 to
$100,000; and increasing the maximum potential fine for a second or
subsequent offence from $30,000 to $500,000.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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