ARCHIVED — Vol. 148, No. 13 — June 18, 2014

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SI/2014-52 June 18, 2014

ECONOMIC ACTION PLAN 2013 ACT, NO. 2

Order Fixing October 31, 2014 as the Day on which Division 5 of Part 3 of the Act Comes into Force

P.C. 2014-647 June 5, 2014

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Labour, pursuant to section 203 of the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2, chapter 40 of the Statutes of Canada, 2013, fixes October 31, 2014 as the day on which Division 5 of Part 3 of that Act comes into force.

EXPLANATORY NOTE

(This note is not part of the Order.)

Proposal

The Order fixes October 31, 2014, as the day on which the provisions of Division 5 of Part 3 of the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2 (the Act) come into force.

Objective

The objective of the Order is to bring into force amendments to the Canada Labour Code (the Code), and consequential amendments to the National Energy Board Act (NEBA), the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act (HMIRA) and the Non-smokers’ Health Act (NSHA).

The amendments to the Code will strengthen the occupational health and safety internal responsibility system. The consequential amendments to the NEBA, the HMIRA and the NSHA will align these acts with the amendments to the Code.

Background

Part II of the Code, which governs occupational health and safety for employers and employees in industries under federal jurisdiction (e.g. banking, telecommunications, interprovincial and international road transportation) was enacted in 1986. The purpose of Part II of the Code is to prevent accidents and injury to health arising out of, linked with, or occurring in the course of employment to which it applies. Approximately 1.2 million employees are covered under Part II of the Code, representing under 10% of the Canadian workforce.

The internal responsibility system is the cornerstone of Part II of the Code, and the underlying philosophy of all occupational health and safety legislation in Canada. The internal responsibility system is based on a philosophy that everyone — both employees and employers — is responsible for his or her own safety and for the safety of co-workers.

Implications

The Order will bring into force, on October 31, 2014, a number of changes to the Code found in the Act, which received Royal Assent on December 12, 2013. These changes will reinforce the internal responsibility system to improve protection for Canadian workers and allow the Labour Program to better focus its attention on critical issues affecting the health and safety of Canadians in their workplace.

The amendments will also help improve the quality and consistency of decisions being made by the Labour Program and ensure that health and safety officer time is used more effectively to enforce regulations and focus on preventing workplace accidents.

Clarifying the definition of “danger” and reinforcing the accountability of workplace parties in resolving refusals to work

The amendments will clarify the definition of “danger” to ensure that work refusals concern situations where an employee is faced with an imminent or serious threat to their life or health. The amendments ensure that the definition of “danger” and the work refusal process are balanced and clear. Once a refusal to work occurs, the new process will ensure that employers and employees assess and address occupational health and safety issues effectively, efficiently and in a collaborative manner before involving the Labour Program of Employment and Social Development Canada.

Providing the Minister of Labour with all the powers and authorities previously conferred upon health and safety officers

The amendments will provide the Minister of Labour (the Minister) with the powers, duties and functions previously conferred on health and safety officers. The Minister will also have the authority, under subsection 140(1) of the Code, to delegate those powers, duties or functions to any qualified person or class of persons. The amendments will provide the Minister with greater oversight and accountability for the enforcement of Part II of the Code, which will lead to a more consistent approach in its enforcement.

Providing the Labour Program with discretion and flexibility to conduct its work in the most efficient manner possible

The amendments will allow the Minister to combine work refusals that affect the same employer and involve substantially the same issues. Furthermore, the Minister will have the authority to decline to investigate refusals to work which can be more effectively dealt with under another act or which are deemed to be trivial, frivolous, vexatious, or made in bad faith.

Consequential amendments to the NEBA, the HMIRA and the NSHA

The consequential amendments to the NEBA, the HMIRA and the NSHA will align these acts with the amendments made to the Code, by removing the references to “health and safety officers” and “regional health and safety officers.” The reference to both these terms in the HMIRA will also be replaced by a reference to the Minister or any person to whom the Minister has delegated powers, duties or functions.

Consultation

Stakeholders were given the opportunity to provide comments on the amendments to Part II of the Code through the parliamentary process, when the Act was considered by House of Commons and Senate committees.

Departmental contact

Shafi Askari-Farahani
Policy Analyst
Occupational Health and Safety Policy Unit
Labour Program
Employment and Social Development Canada
165 De l’Hôtel-de-Ville Street, 10th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0J2
Telephone: 819-654-4468
Fax: 819-953-4830
Email: shafi.askarifarahani@labour-travail.gc.ca