An adjudicator with the office of Ontario's Information and
Privacy Commissioner has denied access to a Ministry of Labour
inspector's reasons for recommending that Occupational
Health and Safety Act charges not be laid against an
employer after a fatal motor vehicle accident involving the death
of eleven people including migrant workers.
The requester wanted a copy of the Ministry of Labour's
"employment safety investigation report". The MOL
granted "partial access", apparently handing over some
parts of the investigation report but not the factors and
considerations that went into the inspector's recommendation
that OHSA charges not be laid.
The requester argued that the public interest in safety, and the
need to subject MOL enforcement and decisions to public scrutiny,
required that the factors and considerations be made public.
The adjudicator refused to grant access to the factors and
considerations that went into the inspector's decision not to
recommend OHSA charges. Instead, the information fell
squarely within the exemption in section 13(1) of the Freedom
of Information and Protection of Privacy Act which provides
that advice or recommendations of a public servant need not be
disclosed. The public interest did not require
disclosure. In fact, the public interest suggested that the
information not be disclosed, because otherwise Ministry of Labour
inspectors may feel constrained in providing full, free and frank
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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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