Amendments to Ontario Workplace Violence Bill

January 25, 2010, 3:06 PM EST

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Ontario's labour movement has won amendments to a bill that if properly enforced will begin to protect workers against workplace violence and harassment.

Government Bill 168, which amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace, was approved December 15 last year. These amendments come into force June 15, 2010.

At committee hearings, unions including the CAW, individual workers and affected families made submissions in support of the bill and recommendations for its improvement.

The committee heard more than 40 submissions and made two amendments to Bill 168: an expanded definition of workplace violence to include threats of physical violence; and, giving authority to Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspectors to order employers to produce a written risk assessment.

Although labour advocates requested additional changes, the amendments put significant legal requirements on employers to develop and implement workplace violence prevention policies and programs.

"This victory belongs to CAW Women's Advocates, local union leadership, along with members of many coalition groups, who formed after the workplace murders of Theresa Vince and Lori Dupont, who were killed in their workplaces in 1996 and 2005 respectively," said Julie White, CAW director of women's programs. "The families of Theresa and Lori worked hard to ensure the issue of workplace violence remained on the political agenda, pushing our elected leaders to make the changes."

"It now becomes our challenge to ensure employers develop and enforce the new workplace violence and prevention policies and programs to create safe and healthy workplaces for the future," said Sari Sairanen, CAW health, safety and environment director.

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