Home Employer Liability Grey County requests clarity on ’employer’ definition following Supreme Court of Canada ruling involving Sudbury

Grey County requests clarity on ’employer’ definition following Supreme Court of Canada ruling involving Sudbury

By M.T. Fernandes | Flesherton Advance

Grey County is adding its voice to those who want the province to clarify what a recent court decision will mean about its liability for people who are employed by its contractors.

The court decision held the city of Greater Sudbury responsible as an “employer” under the Ontario Health and Safety Act for an employee of a contractor. 

The decision said the municipality could be so considered, even though it had little or no oversight of someone employed by a contractor.

The City of Greater Sudbury is asking that the Act be amended to clarify the definition of an “employer”, in light of that decision.

The liability issues are a great concern, said County CAO Kim Wingrove, and Grey will be reviewing its procedures for inspection of tendered jobs.

“This is a significant situation,” she said, that was going to affect all of the county’s operations.

County Councillor Dane Neilsen of Grey Highlands  made the motion, and stressed the impacts could be great. He asked that the county send its letter to the Ministry and to MPPs. He said it would be helpful for Grey County to support the lobbying effort.

On Dec. 8, Sudbury filed a motion for the matter to be considered again, but that was dismissed in February.

There was a decision by the Supreme Court which was evenly split that said that the city is an employer under the act by virtue of having hired a general contractor doing paving because it employed quality control inspectors on the project. 

The decision said that nothing in OHSA requires the ministry to establish that the city had control over the workers. The city was their “employer” simply because it employed the contractors and the inspectors to work on site.

The decision said that several different actors may have overlapping responsibility under the act. 

Ms Wingrove said that the County’s health and safety staff are looking at their inspection and contract management of all our projects.

“Many, many municipalities are very concerned about this,” she said.

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