The Ontario Ministry of Labour recently announced its 2016 and
2017 enforcement blitz and initiative schedule. In an effort to
emphasize the importance of protecting workers' rights and
ensuring employer compliance with both the Occupational Health
and Safety Act (the "OHSA") and the
Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the
"ESA"), the Ministry has prepared a
coordinated inspection blitz schedule under the Employment
Standards Program and the Occupational Health and Safety Program.
The blitzes commence this month and are set to continue until March
The Employment Standards inspection blitzes will focus on
high-risk sectors where there is a history of ESA violations and/or
where young workers, vulnerable workers and/or an increasing number
of Ontarians are employed. This will include the following sectors:
Construction, Food Services, Retail Trade, Professional Services,
Services to Buildings and Dwellings, Other Amusement and Recreation
Industries, and Personal Care Services.
The OHSA inspection blitzes will focus on sector-specific
hazards with the aim of raising awareness and increasing compliance
with the OHSA. The provincial OHSA Blitzes will target the
Construction, Industrial and Mining Sectors with a focus on: Falls,
New and Young Workers, Mobile Cranes and Material Hoisting, and
Safe Material Tramming Underground.
In addition to province-wide blitzes, the Ministry will conduct
local blitzes in predetermined regions throughout the province
targeting specific sectors. For the ESA blitzes this will include
the Child Day-Care Services, Manufacturing, Fitness Centres, Tow
Truck Companies, and Small Manufacturing sectors; for the OHSA
blitzes this will include the Industrial and Construction
The Ministry will report the results of its inspections shortly
after they are completed and will track its findings to ensure
improvements in compliance and fewer workplace injuries. The
Ministry reports that since 2005, it has recovered over $144
million in wages and other money owed to employees through its
inspections, claims and collections and, since 2008, has issued
more than one million compliance orders for safety issues across
Even if you are not in a targeted sector, be aware that in
addition to the 2016/2017 inspection blitzes, the Ministry's
officers will continue to conduct their ongoing enforcement
efforts, so they may still show up at your door. As such, all
employers, and particularly those in sectors targeted by the
2016/2017 blitzes, should take steps to ensure that their
workplaces are compliant with both the ESA and OHSA. The Ministry
of Labour's Inspection Blitzes and Initiatives Announcement and
2016-2017 Schedules can be found
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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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