Human Resources Legislative Update
Bill 177 Receives Royal Assent, Amends WSIA, OHSA, PBA and BPSECA
Date: December 18, 2017
On December 14, 2017, Bill 177, Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017, received Royal Assent. Bill 177 is omnibus legislation which amends several statutes, including the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Pension Benefits Act and the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA) Amendments
Effective January 1, 2018, the WSIA will allow for benefits for chronic mental stress arising out of and in the course of employment. Bill 177 provides for transitional rules to determine entitlement to mental stress claims, the key aspects of which include:
- claims of metal stress occurring on or after April 29, 2014, that have not yet been filed, can be filed by workers or their survivor(s) until July 1, 2018. Any claims filed during this six-month window will be adjudicated under the new mental stress WSIA provisions and the new Operational Policies
- mental stress claims that were already filed in a timely manner and are still pending before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) on January 1, 2018 (i.e. the WSIB has not yet made an operational level or Appeals Branch level decision in respect of the claim) will be adjudicated by the WSIB pursuant to the new provisions, regardless of the date on which the worker’s mental stress occurred
- if a worker (or a worker’s survivor) filed a timely mental stress claim and their timely appeal is filed with or is pending before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) as of January 1, 2018, the WSIAT will refer the claim back to the WSIB to re-adjudicate the claim pursuant to the new provisions, regardless of the date on which the worker’s mental stress occurred.
The transitional provisions do not differentiate between chronic mental stress and traumatic mental stress; therefore, either type of mental stress claim could be filed under these provisions.
Outside these transitional rules, workers cannot re-file mental stress claims that were already denied by the WSIB or the WSIAT.
The transitional rules come into force on January 1, 2018.
Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) Amendments
Among other things, Bill 177 amends OHSA to:
- increase the maximum fines under OHSA from $25,000 to $100,000 for individuals and from $500,000 to $1,500,000 for corporations
- extend the limitation period for the filing of charges under OHSA, currently within one year of the act of default upon which the prosecution is based, to the later of that limitation period or one year from the date that an inspector becomes aware of the alleged offence: this new limitation period could be well beyond the current one-year limit, creating uncertainty for employers regarding their exposure to prosecution
- empower the Deputy Minister/Assistance Deputy Minister of Labour to establish directives for use by inspectors respecting the interpretation, administration and enforcement of OHSA and its regulations, which would be binding on inspectors.
These OHSA amendments came into force on December 14, 2017, the date of Royal Assent.
For more information on the WSIA and OHSA changes, see:
- FTR Now of May 29, 2017, Workplace Safety and Insurance Act Amended to Allow Benefit Entitlement for Chronic Mental Stress
- FTR Now of October 16, 2017, WSIB Issues Final Chronic Mental Stress Policy: What Employers Need to Know
- FTR Now of November 21, 2017, Bill 177 Introduces Transitional Provisions for WSIB Mental Stress, Increased Fines under OHSA, November 21, 2017
Pension Benefits Act (PBA) Amendments
Among other things, Bill 177 amends the PBA to include:
- a requirement for all Ontario registered pension plans to implement governance and funding policies, to be filed with the Superintendent
- coverage enhancements to the Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund (PBGF)
- discharges for annuity purchases
- a new registry for missing beneficiaries.
The changes are not yet in force and amendments to the regulations are needed to implement them.
For more information, see our FTR Now of November 20, 2017, Ontario’s Next Wave of Pension Reform.
Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act (BPSECA) Amendments
Bill 177 amendments to BPSECA include:
- a change to the definition of “Minister” which appears intended to ensure that the Minister of the Ministry overseeing a particular broader public sector organization (BPS) can act under BPSECA
- the elimination of s. 4(4), the exception for designated executives who were subject to a collective bargaining regime, either pursuant to statute or through some voluntary process: organizations which have excluded designated executives under BPSECA will now need to consider how the legislation affects them
- additional regulation-making authority to allow a compensation framework to authorize a Minister to make a particular specified decision that, in the opinion of the Minister, is appropriate, on a case-by-case basis: this could specifically impact compensation increases for specific individuals as opposed to the designated executives in an organization being treated as a group.
The BPSECA amendments came into force on December 14, 2017, the date of Royal Assent.