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The fate of WSIB safety groups program and JHSC certification training following the passing of Bill 160

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On April 1, 2012, certain provisions under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2011 (formerly Bill 160) came into force, including the prevention mandate in Ontario and Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) certification training. The responsibility for the prevention mandate and the JHSC certification training were transferred from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to the chief prevention officer (CPO), George Gritziotis, at the Ministry of Labour (MOL).

Prevention mandate

The mandate remains the prevention of occupational-related injuries, illnesses and diseases. In practical terms, this means the chief prevention officer has put into place a new prevention council to provide advice that is timely, relevant and responsive to changing workplace conditions. Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey will announce the membership of the first council shortly.

It also means that the viability of merit-based programs such as the WSIB Safety Groups is being reviewed. Within 12 months, a decision on whether these programs require improvements in safety, return to work, prevention and cost-effectiveness must be made. As a result, the WSIB board of directors has directed that:

  • Safety Group firms currently at, or exceeding, five years of participation will be extended for one year
  • New sponsors and employers will be considered for entry into the Safety Groups Program in 2013 based on current entry criteria
  • The WSIB review the program with the CPO and recommend to the board of directors, on or before April 30, 2013, whether to continue it

JHSC certification

Effective April 1, 2012, the chief prevention officer has the authority to establish standards for training programs and training providers and to approve programs and providers that have met these standards. This includes authority to establish training requirements that a Joint Health and Safety Committee member must meet and to certify a member that has met these requirements.

The CPO has reviewed the current standards for training programs and training providers set out by the WSIB in the Certification Standards Document, and established the standards and programs as the ones the CPO will follow, at least for now. The CPO has also established these standards as the training requirements that JHSC members must meet in order to become certified.

Committee members who have been certified by the WSIB prior to April 1, 2012, are deemed to have been certified by the CPO.

The CPO has reviewed the current list of WSIB approved JHSC training programs and providers and has approved these programs and providers in respect of the certification of JHSC members. The list of CPO-approved training programs and providers is available on the MOL website at However, it is important to note that, until further notice, the WSIB will continue to administer the process for JHSC certification training, not the MOL.

We will keep you abreast of any new development in the implementation of provisions under the Occupational Health and Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2011 (formerly Bill 160).

Yosie Saint-Cyr
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Managing Editor

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Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B. Managing Editor

Managing Editor at First Reference Inc.
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practiced business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 18 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Yosie is one of Canada’s best known and most respected HR authors, with an extensive background in employment and labour across the country. Read more
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