Sousa’s Response to the Interim Council’s Recommendations

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The Interim Prevention Council sent a letter to the Minister of Labour Charles Sousa with its recommendations for improvements to Bill 160. Here’s what he had to say in response.

Amendments Are on the Way

Sousa began by noting that there are limits on what he can share on legislation being introduced or amendments being prepared for Standing Committee. So he couldn’t provide specific details or the proposed language of the amendments the government’s considering putting forward. But he did acknowledge that the government is working on proposed amendments Bill 160.

Bill 160 Issues to Be Addressed

Here are some of the issues Sousa said he asked MOL officials to work on addressing and his comments on them:

Powers of the Chief Prevention Officer (CPO). Sousa asked MOL staff to consider what powers could be transferred from the Minister to the CPO and what advisory powers could be added to expand and enrich the CPO’s role as to accountability and authority to effectively lead and manage the prevention system.

Minister to consult CPO and consider recommendations of the CPO and Prevention Council (PC). “I appreciate and understand the concern and interest you have in the Minister having a statutory duty to consult with the CPO when considering any significant changes to prevention services,” said Sousa. But he didn’t say he thought such a duty was a good idea or that he recommended adding it to Bill 160.

Equal representation on the PC. As to concerns that there be equal representation from all stakeholders on the PC, Sousa merely said that the “government sees the significance of the ongoing role of the PC and the need to find a correct balance in representation.” Again, this response is non-committal and sort of wishy-washy.

Inspectors. The Interim Council raised concerns about the ability of inspectors to provide evidence to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). Sousa has asked the ministry to consider situations where it may be appropriate for an inspector to testify before the OLRB on a reprisal matter.

Sousa also said that he thought some issues didn’t require a legislative solution but are best addressed through discussion or further consultation, including:

  • Sousa believes that there are ways to ensure that the PC and CPO are kept apprised of and consulted on significant issues before final decisions are made.  But he didn’t commit to the recommended 30 days’ notice requirement.
  • The ministry is very receptive to discussing written agreements to ensure clarity with respect to roles, accountabilities, and relationships between the CPO, the PC and between the CPO and the Deputy Minister, particularly once a CPO is in place to lead the dialogue.
  • The ministry fully supports establishing and ensuring effective ongoing consultation and discussion by the PC and the CPO with the new committees for small business and vulnerable workers as well as other ways to ensure ongoing engagement.

Talk to Us

So what do you think of Sousa’s response? Anything he said—or didn’t say—surprise you? Tell us in the comment section below.

  • Mitchell Baumberg

    hi glen,

    i didn’t see anything about administrative monetary penalties in bill 160. did i miss something? was the idea rejected?

  • Glenn Demby

    Hey, Mitchell:

    Nope, you didn’t miss anything. There is nothing in Bill 160 about AMPs. And, frankly, I’m surprised.

    Just to back up, Mitchell is referring to Administrative Monetary Penalties, i.e., fines that the government could impose IN ADDITION to the usual penalties for committing the OHS offence. The Dean Report (Recommendation 27) calls for AMPs for employers that commit “willful or repeat offences that immediately place workers in danger.”

    In Ontario, there are AMPs for environmental offences. Dean wants to make them part of the deal for OHS violations.
    AMPs aren’t just a piling on thing. They’re potentially a way around due diligence. That’s because due diligence isn’t a defence against issuance of AMPs; at least it isn’t for enviro violations.

    There are 2 possible reasons AMPs didn’t make Bill 160:

    1. The MOL rejected the idea. But that’s kinda’ hard to believe.

    2. The MOL plans to implement AMPs via REGULATION rather than legislation. But I don’t think AMPs could be established by regulation. AMPs are part of the enviro act and I believe would have to be part of the OHS Act, too.

    So I don’t know where things stand with AMPs. But it’s something we’re going to have to keep an eye on.