The question often arises as to whether occupational health and
safety legislation in an employee's home province protects him
or her when temporarily working in another province.
According to one recent Ontario Labour Relations Board decision, in
some cases the answer can be "yes".
The employee was hired in Ontario, where he lived, in September
2013. During his first year of employment, he worked for the
employer in both British Columbia and Ontario. In February
2015, he was temporarily assigned to work in B.C. for about three
weeks as a Warehouse Supervisor. While there, he raised a number of
safety complaints relating to forklifts (which he said were
operated by untrained employees at high speeds), the lack of first
aid kits, obstruction of emergency exits, black ice and other
hazardous conditions. The employee said that his efforts to
have his concerns dealt with were unsuccessful.
Shortly after returning to Ontario, the company terminated his
employment. The employee then filed a reprisal complaint
under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act
claiming that he was fired for seeking the enforcement of the
Ontario OHSA. The employer objected, arguing that the safety
issues related to compliance with B.C. – not Ontario –
safety laws, and that the Ontario OHSA protected only against
retaliation for asserting violations of the Ontario OHSA.
The OLRB stated:
"However, Mr. Escudero, as an employee of the
responding party permanently based in Ontario, had the right, when
he was temporarily assigned by the responding party to a workplace
located in Prince George, to require the responding party to ensure
that every precaution reasonable in the circumstances had been
taken to protect him. That right existed independently of the
substance of any applicable health and safety standard established
by the legislature of British Columbia. Simply put, at all
times Mr. Escudero had the right to require the responding party to
satisfy the statutory obligation established by section 25(2)(h) of
the [Ontario OHSA]. Mr. Escudero states that he requested of
the responding party that it do so, and that his employment was
terminated shortly thereafter. Mr. Escudero claims that his
loss of employment was a consequence of the request he made of the
responding party to ensure that it take reasonable precautions to
protect him. If a link between the latter request and the
reason for his termination from employment is established, section
50(1) of the Act provides the Board with the authority to remedy
As such, the OLRB had authority to adjudicate the reprisal
complaint under the Ontario OHSA.
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