Bill 47: Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act, 2020

Written By: Nicole Cooper, Articling Student

Bill 47, the Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act, was first introduced into the Legislature by Minister of Labour and Immigration, Jason Copping, on November 5, 2020.  It received Royal Assent on December 9, 2020. Bill 47 updates labour and employment legislation to make workplace safety laws easier to understand, creates a more sustainable workers’ compensation system and establishes a “heroes’ fund” to recognize first responders who have sacrificed their lives for their work. Bill 47 implements changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act. Bill 47 also enacts the Heroes’ Compensation Act.

1.      Occupational Health and Safety Act

Bill 47 makes major textual changes to the OHS Act to improve readability and utilize more accessible language. The main changes include redefining important terms, changing workers’ ability to refuse dangerous work, and removing certain requirements for health and safety committees. The amendments to the OHS Act come into force September 1, 2021.


  • Redefining “discriminatory action” as “disciplinary action” to avoid confusion with human rights legislation. Disciplinary action refers to any action or threat of action by a person that does or would adversely affect a worker with respect to any terms or conditions of employment.
  • Expanding the definition of “employer” to include self-employed persons.
  • Narrowing the definition of “hazardous occupation” to an occupation in which a person works with asbestos, silica, coal dust or lead.
  • Amending the definition of “hazardous work site” to a blasting area and an area of a work site where there is a reasonable chance that the airborne concentration of asbestos, silica, coal dust or lead exceeds or may exceed the occupational exposure limit for one or more of the substances under the OHS Code.

Joint Health and Safety Committees

  • Removing the requirement for a joint work site health and safety committee:
    • Removing the obligation for joint work site health and safety committees to conduct regular inspections.
    • Removing the requirement for joint work site health and safety committees/representatives to be present on work sites with multiple employers and a prime contractor.

Refusing Dangerous Work

  • Changes to a worker’s ability to refuse dangerous work:
    • Previously, a worker was able refuse to work or to do particular work if the worker believed on reasonable ground that there was a dangerous condition or that the work constitutes a danger to the worker’s health and safety.
    • Under the amended legislation, a worker may only refuse to do work if the worker believes there is an “undue hazard”.
    • “Undue hazard” includes a hazard that poses a serious and immediate threat to the health and safety of that person.
    • Removal of section 34 which was an express provision prohibiting an employer from making a worker work in dangerous conditions.

Other Important Amendments

  • New section on “acceptances and allowances” – permits a Director to vary from any provision of the OHS Code if the Director is satisfied that no person’s health or safety is materially affected by the allowance.
  • Addition of provisions related to serious injuries, illnesses, incidents and worker exposure to radiation:
    • Sets out a list of injuries that must be reported including injury, illness or incident resulting in death of a worker, where worker may be admitted to hospital, uncontrolled/unplanned explosion, fire or flood, or collapse of equipment.
    • Investigations are required where the incident had likelihood of causing serious injury or illness and there is reasonable cause to believe that corrective action may need to be taken to prevent recurrence.
  • Incorporation of radiation protection laws.

2.      Workers’ Compensation Act

Bill 47 enforces a tightened workers’ compensation scheme to improve sustainability and affordability. Major changes include amendments to the claims review process, removal of an employer’s obligation to reinstate injured workers, and reinstating the cap on maximum insurable earnings for injured and ill workers. The amendments will take effect January 1, 2021.

Review and Appeals Process

  • Appointment of a review body consisting of at least three members for the purposes of reviewing decisions made by adjudicators in respect of compensation claims:
    • A person claiming compensation who is dissatisfied with the decision of the claims adjudicator may apply for review within one year of the decision.
    • Disputed claims decisions will proceed to the review body prior to being considered by the Appeals Commission.
    • Appeals to the Appeals Commission must be made within one year from the date the review body made its decision.
  • Repealing s. 46.3(11) which previously resolved disputes regarding equal evidence in a medical claim in favour of the worker.

Fair Practices Office and Medical Panels Office

  • Removal of the Fair Practices Office and establishment of a Fairness Review Officer.
  • Removing the Medical Panels Office and substituting a Medical Panels Commissioner – the Medical Panels Commissioner is responsible for the operation of the medical panel process in accordance with the regulations.

Presumptions Regarding Injuries

  • Limiting the presumption that psychological/trauma-related injuries have arisen from the course of one’s work to first responders, correctional officers, emergency dispatchers or member of any other class of workers prescribed by the regulations (s. 24.2(3)).

Insurable Earnings

  • Reinstating an insurable earnings cap for injured and ill workers.
  • Amending s. 56(2) which previously specified that 90% of the employee’s loss of net earnings would be paid under disability compensation. The impairment of earning capacity will now be assessed by the Board.

Reinstatement of Injured Workers

  • Repealing the entirety of Part 5.1 – Obligation to Reinstate Worker and Continue to Provide Benefits. That section previously dealt with an employer’s obligation to reinstate workers who were unable to work as a result of an accident and who had been employed for 12 continuous months prior to the accident. Employers were previously required to accommodate the worker in their return to work to the point of undue hardship.
  • Adding a duty to cooperate in Part 6:
    • Workers are required to mitigate their loss of earnings resulting from an injury and cooperate with the Board in the development of a vocational/rehabilitation plan.
    • Employers are required to cooperate with the Board and the employee to achieve the early and safe return of the worker to the worker’s employment.
    • If a worker fails to cooperate, the Board may reduce or suspend the compensation payable to that worker.

3.      Heroes’ Compensation Act

The Heroes’ Compensation Act establishes a one-time, tax-free payment of $100,000 to families of correctional or first responders who die in the course of their duties. Total payments under this Act must not exceed $1.5 million per year. The Act came into force upon Royal Assent, December 9, 2020.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the above amendments, feel free to contact Nicole or our Labour and Employment Practice Group.


Disclaimer: This article is to be used for educational and non-commercial purposes only. Parlee McLaws LLP does not intend for this article to be a source of legal advice. Please seek the advice of a lawyer before choosing to act on any of the information contained in this article.