Bill 59: Expected Changes at a Glance
On October 27th, the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity and Minister Responsible for the Mauricie Region proposed Bill 59: Act to Modernize the Occupational Health and Safety Regime.1
Long-awaited since 1985, this bill contains elements that imply important changes for employers. The following is a brief summary of the main changes we have identified following the reading of the bill, available on the National Assembly of Quebec website.
Impacts on the Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety
Since its publication in 1980, the Act has applied the principle of priority groups to impose obligations on companies in these sectors (i.e. prevention program, health and safety committee, and prevention representative). However, only the first three priority sectors, as defined by the Commission des normes, de l'équité, la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), were mandatory to meet these requirements.
Bill 59 proposes to extend these obligations to all Quebec industrial sectors based on the size of the establishments and the level of risk of the activities.
In fact, the implementation of a prevention program will be necessary depending on the risk levels associated with the activities performed in an establishment according to the classification of the three categories of risk level: low, medium, high, (according to the NAICS Canada’s grid published by Statistics Canada). Additionally, depending on the number of workers and the level of risk associated to the activities, a health and safety representative will have to be nominated. Bill 59 proposes that an establishment that employs at least 5 workers and the risk level is high, or that employs at least 10 workers and the risk level is medium, that at least one health and safety representative must be designated from among the establishment’s workers.
Another modification proposed by Bill 59 is on the obligation for an employer to take the necessary measures to ensure the protection of a worker in the workplace regarding a situation where physical or psychological violence, including domestic violence and abuse, are present when working remotely.
And, mandatory theoretical training obligations could be imposed in the following ways:
- A Health and Safety Representative for a small establishment
At least 7 hours including a legislative and regulatory framework for occupational health and safety applicable to an establishment.
- Job Site Committee Member
At least 3 hours especially on the prevention mechanisms applicable on a construction site.
- A Health and Safety Representative
At least 40 hours especially on the prevention mechanisms applicable on a construction site.
- A Health and Safety Coordinator
At least 120 hours including legislative and regulatory framework for occupational health and safety applicable to a construction site.
Impacts on the Act Respecting Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases
Bill 59 could significantly modify the occupational diseases components. For example, a committee on occupational oncological diseases might be formed. This committee would have to determine if characteristics or risks of the work carried on by the worker could be responsible for causing cancer.
In addition, some sections of the Act containing presumptions applicable to the development of diseases for employees working with specific characteristics would be repealed and replaced by a new regulation on occupational diseases that is more explicit and could include a presumption for aspects related to post-traumatic stress.
Bill 59 would also allow a CNESST decision that deals with a medical or funding issue to be contested at the administrative labour tribunal. It would also be possible to do so without going through the administrative review branch.
The proposed amendment to Quebec's occupational health and safety regime contains many more changes (120 pages in total) than those briefly mentioned in this article. To read the full bill, please refer to the government's website by clicking here.
Cognibox is actively following the evolution of Bill 59. Our team remains available to help you analyze your needs, as well as in the implementation of the tools and training required following the eventual adoption of the bill, in its present form or following the specific consultations and public hearings taking place from January 19 to 22, 2021.