OHS Insider Month in Review – March 2018: Federal
LAWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Feb. 15: Forget July 1. Cannabis legalization won’t happen until August at the very earliest. Senate leaders forced the delay by moving back third reading of the legalization bill (Bill C-45) a month to June 7. If and when the bill does receive royal assent, it’ll take 8 to 12 weeks to get the new retail system up and running, according to the Health Minister. Even without the Parliamentary maneuvering, it was highly doubtful that all 10 provinces and 3 territories would made the July 1 deadline anyway. [See HRI, “The 6 Things HR Managers Need to Know about Legalization” for a detailed analysis of what’s going on with legalization across the country.]
Jan. 31: A bill making sexual and other forms of workplace harassment a hazard covered by OHS laws received second reading and is sure to pass. While it doesn’t specifically define “harassment,” Bill C-65 expands the meaning of “workplace violence” employers must prevent to include “physiological” injuries and illnesses. Other key provisions:
- Employer duty to prevent and investigate harassment incidents
- Privacy and reprisal protections for employees who complain of harassment
- New employee right to have complaints investigated by neutral third parties and/or resolve complaints via informal resolution.
Law Enforcement & Corrections
Jan. 31: The government unveiled policy changes to accommodate transgendered inmates in federal prisons:
- Inmates’ preference and not gender listed on ID determines placement in men’s or women’s prison, subject to exceptions for safety
- Inmates’ preference dictates whether they’re referred to as “he” or “she”
- Access to personal gender identity information limited to those directly involved in inmates’ care on an “as needed” basis.
Feb. 8: Newly tabled Bill C-69 proposes big changes to the environmental impact assessment process companies must go through to get their proposed projects approved. Highlights:
- Expanded scope of projects that must go through review process
- New early engagement stage to boost public participation
- Shorter timelines to speed up process
- Publication of brief, clear summaries of each decision to promote transparency
- All federal assessments to be done by single agency called Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
Feb. 8: The other major federal environmental bill on the table, Bill C-68, proposes changes to the Fisheries Act. Highlights:
- Current “causing serious harm to fish” broken into 2 separate prohibitions—causing death to fish and “harmful alteration, disruption and destruction” of fish habitat (HADD)
- HADD includes temporary harms that don’t kill and don’t last
- New ban on harm to ecologically significant areas
- New category of projects that must get Fisheries Act