Ontario appears to be the next Canadian province to ban drivers
from using hand-held cell phones and devices with display screens,
joining Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Québec.
These provinces have passed legislation that imposes fines and
demerit point penalties on drivers who use cell phones or have
display screens visible to drivers while operating a motor
Ontario's Bill 118, the Countering Distracting Driving
and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2008 was introduced in
the Provincial Legislature on October 28, 2008. The Bill received
its second reading in November 2008 and has been referred to the
Standing Committee for review.
As a result of the proposed amendments to Bill 118, the
Highway Traffic Act ( the "HTA") will prohibit
the operation of a motor vehicle with a television, computer or any
other device with a display screen, if the display screen is
visible to the driver. Further, motorists will be prohibited from
driving while holding or using hand-held communication or
entertainment devices, such as cell phones or mp3 players.
There are several exemptions to the proposed Bill 118, including
GPS navigation devices, commercially-used logistical transportation
tracking systems, collision avoidance systems and instrument
display screens which provide information on the status of the
motor vehicle's systems. Ambulances drivers, fire department
vehicles and police department vehicles are also exempt, as are all
drivers using a banned device to contact these emergency
This new legislation may have some important consequences for
business owners whose employees use motor vehicles in the course of
their employment. Section 207(1) of the HTA provides that the owner
of a vehicle may be charged with, and convicted of, an offence
under the HTA for which the driver of the vehicle is charged and
convicted. This concept applies, for example, where an employee is
charged under the amended HTA with the offence of using a hand-held
cell phone while driving - the employer may be charged and
convicted of that offence.
Currently, certain offences are specifically exempted from the
application of this rule – for example, if a driver of a
vehicle violates the U-turn prohibition under the HTA, then the
owner is not subject to being convicted for that offence. The
proposed amendment to the HTA does not currently contemplate that
the ban on hand-held cell phone use while driving will be one of
the offences specifically exempted from Section 207(1). As Bill 118
must still pass through Committee review and one additional reading
in the Ontario Legislature before being brought into force, it is
possible that the Bill may be amended to include the hand-held cell
phone ban among those provisions exempt from 207(1).
A further concern for business owners whose employees use motor
vehicles in the course of their employment arises from the fact
that under the HTA, the owner of the vehicle may be held
vicariously liable for losses or damages sustained by any person as
a result of negligence in the operation of a vehicle by his
employee in the performance of an employee's duties. The public
policy reason behind the law of vicarious liability is derived from
an employer's responsibility to control the careful execution
by employees of their duties. In these circumstances, if the driver
of a vehicle were to be involved in an accident caused by the
driver's breach of the hand-held cell phone ban, the vehicle
owner may be held liable for damages or loss to third parties
resulting from the employee's cell phone use.
At law, there is a due diligence defence that may apply to the
employer in these circumstances. It is only available if the
employer can show that it had in place a written policy banning the
use of hand-held cell phone while operating a motor vehicle in the
course of employment and that the employer took reasonable steps to
enforce the policy.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions or GST.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions.
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