DEAN DEVELOPMENTS: Bill 160 Puts OHS Reform on Fast Track

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Mar. 3: On Thursday, the government removed all doubt of its intentions to move forward on the Dean Report by introducing Bill 160.

The 4 Things Bill 160 Tells Us about OHS Reform

Before getting into the details of the Bill, let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. There are 4 things about Ontario OHS reform we now know for certain:

  1. OHS Reform Is Going to Happen: Bill 160 removes all doubt that the government is serious about making sweeping changes to the OHS system. OHS reform in Ontario is no longer a question of IF but of WHEN and WHAT. Passage of Bill 160 before the end of the current Assembly session in June is a lead pipe lock. (See the chart below to get a sense of when actual changes are likely to come into effect.)
  2. Dean Will Be the Blue Print: The other important point about Bill 160 is that it gives the Dean Commission just about everything it asked for. The Bill essentially translates the bulk of the priority recommendations listed in the Report into legislative changes necessary to turn them into actual law. To the extent Bill 160 strays from Dean, it does so in providing for additional legal changes not included in the Dean Report.
  3. MOL Will Need to Adopt Implementing Regulations: Bill 160 is a piece of general legislation the thrust of which is to give the government the powers it needs to adopt the Dean recommendations. If and when the Bill passes, the MOL will have to publish regulations exercising those new powers. Those implementing regulations will provide the nitty-gritty details on training, inspections and other aspects of the legal changes affecting day-to-day operations.
  4. MOL Regulatory/Internal Changes: It’s important to keep in mind that that the Dean Report lists other recommendations that the MOL can and probably will adopt without going through the Assembly via the publication of new regulations and the implementation of internal administrative authorities, e.g., the creation of a mandatory OHS poster, the establishment of advisory committees on small business and vulnerable workers and the issuance of new JHSC guidance. Thus, while Bill 160 may be the centerpiece of reform, changes will also be taking place on the regulatory front. (See “The Other Changes” below for a list.)