By Norm Keith and Cathy Chandler, Gowlings
Bill 168, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace passed second reading in the Ontario legislature on October 20, 2009.
Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Peter Fonseca introduced Bill 168 on April 20, 2009. Mr. Fonseca voiced support for the Bill during the second reading debate stating, “We need to work together to eliminate workplace violence.”
Opposition MPP’s voiced concern about several aspects of Bill 168 including the domestic violence provisions stating, “the employer cannot reasonably be expected to know the personal relationships of employees, spouses and partners without a complete breach of people’s privacy.” Opposition MPP’s have demanded public hearings before Bill 168 is passed into law.
Currently, the proposed amendments under Bill 168 require employers to assess the risk of workplace violence and develop policies and programs to prevent workplace violence and harassment. The Bill also requires employers to take reasonable precautions to protect an employee from domestic violence in the workplace and allow workers to remove themselves from harmful situations if they have reason to believe that they are at risk of imminent danger due to workplace violence.
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