Troy Winters | CUPE Health & Safety
Provincial governments in Alberta and Saskatchewan have recently changed the way inspectors can enforce health and safety laws and regulations in their respective provinces. The new programs, known as summary offence tickets (SOTs) in Saskatchewan and ticketing and administrative penalties (TAPS) in Alberta, are both designed to increase compliance with health and safety laws and regulations.
The new rules are similar to those already in place in Ontario, B.C., Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Other provinces do not currently have a ticketing system in place.
In Saskatchewan, health and safety inspectors will issue tickets. Regulations released in December will add 12 summary offences for which a ticket may be handed out on site. Enforcement of the laws will start July 1. There is only one offence aimed at workers; failing to use provided personal protective equipment will draw a $250 fine, however CUPE members who have supervisory roles may also be ticketed under the supervisory requirements. Most other offences are for employers and have a $1,000 price tag. Full details can be found at saskatchewan.ca/sot.
The provincial government claims that SOTs will deter stakeholders from not following OHS laws, and will help keep the working population in the province healthy and safe. However Dolores Douglas, CUPE Saskatchewan vice president and co-chair of the National Health and Safety Committee points out that “these $600 or $1,000 fines may hurt small businesses, so they may comply because of the threat, but it will do little to deter larger business that can still save money by not complying, and pay the fine only if they get caught.”
Instead, Douglas offered potential solutions: “What we really need are more inspectors doing more inspections, and more stop work orders written to employers who are breaking the law. With this approach, inspectors could help force employers to comply by removing hazards at the source, instead of penalizing after the fact.”
In Alberta, inspectors now also have the power to use significant administrative penalties against individuals who show a history of disregard for health and safety laws, or who have actively worked to circumvent the laws. Individuals could be workers, contractors, suppliers, prime contractors or employers. Administrative penalties can be as high as $10,000 per violation per day. Inspecting officers can only recommend that an administrative penalty be applied. The Occupational Health and Safety Division will make the final decision. The penalties will be appealable to the OHS council.
Alberta OHS officers can also hand out spot tickets for violations of laws and regulations. Fines can range from $100 to $500. Of the 67 fine provisions, 29 are designed to be punitive to workers, and range from $100 to $200 per infraction. Instead of an appeal, people wishing to challenge a spot ticket can schedule a court date, similar to the process of fighting a parking ticket. The full list of ticketable offences can be found at work.alberta.ca.