A new Ontario Bill will give unpaid trainees the protection
of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The OHSA
currently gives that protection to paid workers only.
The current definition of "worker" under the OHSA is
"a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary
compensation . . ."
Under Bill 18, the OHSA's definition of "worker"
will be expanded to include unpaid high school, college and
university students in certain approved programs; as well as
certain unpaid trainees receiving training for their own benefit
and not for the benefit of the employer. Bill 18 also allows
the government to pass a regulation making other unpaid persons
"workers" under the OHSA.
Practically, most employers will already apply their safety
programs to unpaid trainees as if the OHSA already applied to
them. The main impact of the redefinition of
"worker" will be that employers are now exposed to
charges and fines if unpaid trainees – who, one suspects,
have a higher than average risk of being injured – are in
fact injured. This makes it all the more important that employers
ensure that trainees receive all necessary safety training.
Bill 18 passed first reading on July 16, 2014. Due to the
Liberal majority, the Bill is expected to pass. We do not yet
know when the Bill will come into force.
Bill 18, which contains amendments to a number of other
employment-related laws, may be accessed here.
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