Home Occupational Health & Safety Grey County troubled by Supreme Court ruling on Sudbury case

Grey County troubled by Supreme Court ruling on Sudbury case

By Chris Fell | CollingwoodToday.ca

Grey County has expressed its concern about a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision that went against the Greater City of Sudbury.

In November 2023, the Supreme Court dismissed Sudbury’s appeal of a lower court decision that found Sudbury liable for Occupational Health and Safety Act violations. The case arose after a tragic incident when a pedestrian was struck and killed by a grader being operated by an employee of a construction company contracted by Sudbury to rebuild a local road.

After the accident both Sudbury and the construction company were charged by the Ministry of Labour with offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Sudbury was initially acquitted at trial in 2018, but the Ontario Court of Appeal later found the city liable as an employer after the ministry appealed. The city then appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which dismissed the case in a split 4-4 vote. More details about the case and decisions can be found on Sudbury.com herehere and here.

At its meeting on March 14, county council received a resolution from Sudbury that had been forwarded to all municipalities in the province. The resolution asks the province to clarify the definition of “employer” in the Occupational Health and Safety Act “to exclude owners that have contracted with a constructor for a project.”

The Sudbury resolution appeared on the consent agenda for county council’s meeting. However, Grey Highlands Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen pulled the item for further discussion. Nielsen moved that county council to send a letter of support to Sudbury and a letter to provincial officials supporting Sudbury’s position on the matter.

County council unanimously supported Nielsen’s request after hearing from CAO Kim Wingrove on the potential impacts on municipalities of the court’s ruling.

“This is a significant situation that is going to have an impact on our operations, insurance costs and liability,” said Wingrove.

After the meeting, Nielsen said the issue is of such significant he felt it warranted further attention from council.

“As it stands the court ruling is saying that municipalities shall be considered employers in situations where we hire companies to do works, even road works,” said Nielsen. “If accidents happen that cause injury or damages this would open municipalities up to being liable and sued.  Our insurance costs are already increasing at significant rates.”

With files from Tyler Clarke, Sudbury.

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