Courses on Joint Health and Safety Committees No Longer Need to Take Place in the Classroom in Ontario

As of January 31st, 2019, employers with 20 or more regular employees are no longer required to book classroom training for Joint Health and Safety Committee members. Part 1 of the mandatory courses on Joint Health and Safety Committees, which were previously only available as classroom, distance or blended learning, can now be completed entirely online.

The announcement from the provincial government’s online press room, which uses the phrase “red tape” no less than three times, touts that the change helps to create “fair and competitive processes for business” in the province of Ontario.

“Spending up to five days away from family was unfair to Ontario workers”, states the press release, referring to the fact that most workers who took theses courses did so over the course of five days. This statement seems to imply that the previous courses on Joint Health and Safety Committees took place at some faraway boarding school workers could not leave until the course was completed, which was not the case (they mostly took place in strip malls.)

“Businesses will no longer have to pay for travel and accommodation costs for employees to travel for up to five days to take in-person training”, the release continues, which is true. Employers surely did not enjoy bearing the financial burden of ensuring their workers’ health and safety, nor allowing workers five days’ respite from labour in order to learn useful things. Now, workers can complete their health and safety training online, from the comfort of their lunchrooms or office chairs, perhaps while performing billable work at the same time.

The government claims this change will save Ontario businesses an estimated $5 million per year, which sounds like a lot of money if you have no class consciousness or conception of the scale of wealth these businesses pocket each year.

Additionally, workers who are required to get training no longer have to complete Part 1 and Part 2 of the training during the same quarter – they can do so within the year. That’s longer than most people last in any one position these days, so with any luck, most employers won’t have to go through with paying for the second part of their training at all.

Not included in the press release is a point mentioned on the now-updated Joint Health and Safety Committees page of the Ministry of Labour site: “simplifying rules to create straightforward timelines for training and eliminate need to submit forms.” The release does not specify a specific nefarious form or forms, so we can presume that the government means to do away with them altogether.

Further information on the changes, such as when these changes will become effective, are yet to be determined.