Health and Safety Conference

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Event date: 
Thursday, October 25, 2018 (All day)
Name of Organization: 
Lancaster House

Health and Safety Conference

October 25, 2018

Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel

Conference Day - Thursday, October 25, 2018

Conference Co-Chairs

Wade Poziomka Union Counsel, Ross & McBride

Sara Mojtehedzadeh Work and Wealth Reporter, The Toronto Star

Diane Laranja Employer Counsel, Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti

Conference Advisory Committee

Tatiana Wacyk Arbitrator/Mediator

Tara Peel National Representative, Health, Safety & Environment, Canadian Labour Congress

Landon Young Employer Counsel, Stringer

Katherine Ferreira Union Counsel, Koskie Minsky

Dr. Peter Smith Senior Scientist, Institute for Work and Health

Alison Anderson Director, Human Resources, Occupational Health and Safety, City of Toronto

Panel 1

Major Caselaw Update: The latest on prosecutions, sentencing, due diligence, and more

9:10 AM - 10:30 AM

Panelists to be announced


In this session, experienced counsel will review the most important decisions in occupational health and safety law over the past year, including key cases on OHSA and Criminal Code prosecutions and sentencing. Additional topics will be added in the weeks leading up to the conference to ensure coverage of the latest and most important developments in workplace health and safety.

BREAK (with refreshments)  10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Panel 2

Revamping the OHSA and the CLCInvestigations, enforcement, and other key developments

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

 * Panelists to be announced


This past year has seen many significant legislative changes as governments respond to emerging challenges to workplace health and safety such as those brought to light by the #MeToo movement. From increased fines to new obligations in investigating and responding to workplace violence and harassment, it can be difficult to keep track of all the developments. In this panel, experienced counsel will bring you up to speed on the most important changes that have been introduced both in Ontario and at the federal level, addressing issues such as:

  • What groups of previously exempt employees will now gain protection under Part II of the Canada Labour Code?
  • How has Bill C-65 expanded the definition of harassment and violence? What are some examples of conduct that would fall within these expanded definitions? What new obligations are imposed on employers? Who is responsible for investigating unresolved complaints of workplace violence or harassment? Are there any measures that must be implemented to protect the privacy of complainants and respondents?
  • Who qualifies as a "competent investigator" under the Canada Labour Code?
  • What are the new maximum penalties for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act? Is this increase expected to usher in a trend towards higher fines? When does the limitation period for laying charges start to run?
  • Are there any guidelines that set out the scope of an MOL inspector's authority? How do they determine whether a workplace harassment investigation is "appropriate in the circumstances?" What factors have Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors used to assess whether a workplace harassment investigator qualifies as an "impartial person?" When can they order an employer to retain an independent investigator? Is the MOL entitled to a copy of the investigator's report?

 NETWORKING LUNCH            12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Panel 3

Overcoming Stress: Recognition, prevention, and accommodation

1:00 PM - 2:15 PM 

* Panelists to be announced


With the growing acceptance that health and safety should focus not only on physical but also psychological health, the perception that stress management is a personal responsibility that is solely within an individual worker's control has started to change. However, it can be difficult to identify and tackle its root causes since it doesn't fit within the traditional concept of a workplace hazard. In this session, health and safety professionals and a psychologist will review the dangers posed by stress in the workplace and examine measures that can be taken to mitigate its impact, addressing issues such as:

  • The impacts of stress: What is "stress?" How does it physically impact the body? How significant is it as a health hazard? What is the difference between the normal pressures inherent in any job and stress that is harmful to an employee's health? Are there typical signs that an employee is experiencing an unhealthy amount of stress?
  • Assessing risks: Does a failure to address or reduce high levels of stress constitute a breach of an employer's obligation to maintain a safe and healthy workplace? What are the thirteen psychosocial risk factors that can affect mental health in the workplace? Should employers conduct health and safety risk assessments to prevent or mitigate a claim for chronic mental stress? How should they go about conducting such an assessment? Are there any tools that can assist in identifying psychosocial hazards that can lead to stress and mental injury?
  • Reducing and preventing stress: What best practices can be adopted to prevent, reduce or eliminate stress, overload and burnout in the workplace? What role does the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace have in preventing and reducing unhealthy workplace stress? What steps can be taken to identify and reduce workplace stressors? Should the focus be on the organization and design of work itself, or on measures that will help employees address stressors directly? Should the focus be on both?
  • Accommodating employees: From a legal viewpoint, when should stress be recognized as a "disability" that gives rise to the duty to accommodate? What are some examples of helpful accommodations? Are there steps that unions can take to facilitate accommodation?

 BREAK (with refreshments)                        2:15 PM - 2:30 PM 

Panel 4

Weeding Out Fact from Fiction: Workplace safety in an era of legalized cannabis

2:30 PM - 3:45 PM 

* Panelists to be announced


With the rise of medical cannabis use, and the impending legalization of recreational use, it is critical for employers and unions to assess and address the workplace implications. In this session, medical experts will join seasoned labour lawyers to discuss impairment, disclosure, workplace safety, and other critical issues, including:

  • Legal landscape: What are the key features of the federal legislation legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes? How have the provinces adapted their laws relating to substance use? Are there any specific legislative measures to address cannabis in the workplace?
  • Understanding use and impairment: How widespread is cannabis use among Canadian workers? What are the short- and long-term effects of cannabis use? Is there a long-term impact on cognitive abilities? How long does impairment last? Is there any form of cannabis, or strains of cannabis, that do not cause impairment, or are less impairing than others? What safety hazards are posed by on or off the job use? Is there anything different about cannabis impairment than impairment from other sources (e.g. alcohol, fatigue, etc.)?
  • Impairment testing: What testing methods are currently available, and what do they measure/reveal? How is impairment testing being addressed by federal and provincial legislation in relation to impairment while driving?
  • Disclosure, safety, and accommodation: In what circumstances can employees be required to disclose their medical or recreational use of cannabis? What type of medical information should be requested to determine whether employees can safely and effectively perform their jobs? Since current testing for cannabis cannot measure present impairment, are employers entitled to bar cannabis users from holding safety-sensitive positions? How have recent cases addressed this issue?
  • Crafting workplace policies: Will/should policies addressing cannabis use be developed by joint health and safety committees? Do workplace parties need to rewrite their policies to address medical/recreational cannabis use or can existing drug and alcohol policies apply with slight modification? What elements should be included? How should possession and positive test results be addressed? Can/should possession or a positive test result provide justification for discipline or termination, or would such a policy be ripe for challenge? How have recent cases addressed these issues? What are reasonable restrictions for employers to put on cannabis use during work hours for employees who do not hold safety-sensitive positions (bearing in mind that having a glass of wine at lunch is generally permissible)?