Ontario Keeping Workers Safe As Province Reopens
July 15, 2021
The Ontario government is investing $10.5 million to provide up to 60,000 small businesses across the province with free health and safety training over the next three years. The new Small Business Health and Safety Training Program will improve health and safety awareness to help prevent illnesses and injures by training health and safety representatives of small businesses on how to keep workers safe in the retail, construction, health care, accommodation and food services, and other sectors.
Businesses will also be reimbursed for the time the representatives are away from work.
“As Ontario reopens, keeping workers safe will continue to be our top priority,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “Small businesses have less resources to learn about health and safety than other businesses and we know they are facing a lot of financial pressures as a result of this pandemic. Our government is making sure they have the guidance and support they need.”
Beginning today, Ontario’s new Small Business Health and Safety Training Program will cover the course registration costs for an employee who is appointed by their colleagues as a health and safety representative for their workplace. The program will also reimburse small businesses $150 towards the representative’s training time. All small businesses that have six to 19 employees are required to have a health and safety representative and they can apply for this program.
“Protecting our economy starts with protecting our small businesses and the people who run them and foster their growth,” said Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “By investing in health and safety training, we’re making our small businesses safer places for hardworking families to seize the opportunities they need to get ahead.”
The eLearning training course is offered through Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, a Health and Safety Association. The free training takes about six to eight hours for most people to complete, and covers a range of topics, including:
occupational health and safety laws
rights, duties and responsibilities of workplace parties
duties and responsibilities of the health and safety representative under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
recognition, assessment, control and evaluation of common workplace hazards
This program builds on Ontario’s commitment to protect and support workers, educate and train people for the labour market and contribute to a prosperous and stable economy and is part of the province’s 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy.
To register for the free training, eligible small businesses must access the course through Workplace Safety and Prevention Services’ website. Once training is complete, small business applicants should retain a copy of the certificate of completion as proof for their refund of the $25 registration fee and the $150 toward the cost of worker training time.
Small businesses can apply for reimbursement through the Small Business Health and Safety Training Program starting in Fall 2021. More details will be available soon on Workplace Safety and Prevention Services’ website.
Selected by workers, a health and safety representative’s duties include inspecting the workplace on a regular basis, identifying possible hazards, making recommendations for improvements and making health and safety resources available to those in the workplace.
In Ontario, about 130,000 small businesses require a health and safety representative.
Workplaces with 20 or more workers are required to have a joint health and safety committee.
"Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. Helping them to keep their people safe so they can rebound and thrive is a priority at WSPS. The training equips health and safety representatives with the tools and knowledge they need to make their workplaces safer, better and more productive. It is a real win for both the employee and the employer." - Lynn Brownell President and CEO, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services
"The health and safety of the workers of Waterloo Region, and all of Ontario, is of paramount importance for our government. This program will allow employees of small businesses to receive vital health and safety training at no cost. Today's announcement is a win-win for small businesses workers across the province." - Amy Fee MPP, Kitchener South-Hespeler
"Getting workers home safely to their families at the end of the day is what matters most. The training the Government of Ontario is making available to small businesses will improve the health and safety of workplaces across the province without adding additional financial burdens to smaller employers." - Mike Harris MPP, Kitchener-Conestoga
"We commend Minister McNaughton and the Ontario government for providing health and safety training supports tailored to small businesses, especially at a time when they are needed most. Small businesses have been stretched to their limits and beyond throughout the pandemic, and maintaining healthy, safe workplaces is critical to keeping their doors open." - Dan Kelly President and CEO, Canadian Federation of Independent Business