Ontario Employment Law


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Province Wide Smoking Ban Adopted

By Yosie Saint-Cyr, Editor at HRinfodesk---Canadian Payroll and Employment Law, June 2005

On June 8, 2005, Bill 164, An Act to rename and amend the Tobacco Control Act, 1994, received and passed third reading. The new legislation establishes a province-wide smoking ban in all enclosed public places in Ontario, including workplaces. Bill 164 aims to reduce an individualís exposure to harm caused by second-hand smoke (also known as environmental tobacco smoke or ETS) and eliminates the need for municipal non-smoking by-laws. It will repeal the Smoking in the Workplace Act and make complementary amendments to other Acts.

Bill 164 is awaiting Royal Assent; the main sections come into force on May 31, 2006; however, other sections of the Bill come into force in stages. In particular, subsection 5 (2), which mandates the elimination of individual cigarette package "power wall" displays, comes into force on May 31, 2008.

Since its introduction, the Bill has been amended. However, the Bill still prohibits smoking in any enclosed public place or enclosed workplace as of May 31, 2006, as well as in schools or school grounds, legion halls, private clubs, restaurants, bars and casinos, vehicles used for work (such as taxis and delivery trucks), daycare centers and private homes where daycare services are provided. The prohibition also applies to reserved seating areas in sport arenas or entertainment venues.

The Bill does not provide for designated smoking areas for hospitals, psychiatric facilities and long-term care facilities. However, the exception afforded to residential care facilities and psychiatric facilities has been revised. "Controlled" smoking in such facilities is allowed if certain conditions are satisfied. Exceptions also apply to hotels, motels and inns, as well as scientific research facilities.

Notwithstanding the exception for residential and psychiatric facilities, the Bill does provide protection for home healthcare workers, who have the right to request that a person not smoke in their presence while delivering health services. Where a person refuses this request, the home healthcare worker has the right to leave the premises without providing any further services, unless to do so will put the client in serious danger.

Employer Obligations under the Act

Employers have specific obligations under the Act. Employers and business owners will be required to post no-smoking signs and take action if the smoking ban is violated. Specifically, employers in respect of an enclosed workplace, public place, or area prescribed in the Act must ensure that:

  • Employees, guests, and customers comply with all provisions of the Act;
  • Notice is provided to all employees that smoking is prohibited in a manner that complies with the forthcoming regulation;
  • Any prescribed signs that prohibit smoking throughout the enclosed workplace, public place or area over which the employer has control, including washrooms, are posted in accordance and in the manner prescribed by the forthcoming regulation;
  • No ashtrays or similar equipment remain in the enclosed workplace, public place or area, other than in a vehicle in which the manufacturer has installed an ashtray; and
  • A person who refuses to comply with the Act does not remain in the enclosed workplace, public place or area.

Employers cannot:

  • dismiss or threaten to dismiss an employee;
  • discipline or suspend an employee or threaten to do so; or
  • impose any form of penalty, intimidation or coercion

upon an employee who has acted in accordance with or has sought enforcement of the Act.

For more information on Bill 164, go to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website. To view the amendments made to Bill 164 since its introduction, click here.

By Yosie Saint-Cyr, Editor at HRinfodesk

Published on HRinfodesk---Canadian Payroll and Employment Law and Developments

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This article offers general comments on legal developments of concern to businesses. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of this information. These publications are written for informational purposes only and should NOT be relied upon as legal advice or opinions. The reader should always obtain legal advice from a qualified lawyer or other qualified professional, which will be responsive to the case or circumstance of the individual. Please note that the content provided in this article or any content contained in or made available through any third party website linked to from this article and/or HRinfodesk, is provided 'as is' without representations or warranties of any kind. All representations and warranties in respect of Content or Third Party Content, express or implied, including, without limitation any representations to warranties or conditions regarding accuracy, timeliness, completeness, non-infringement, merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose are hereby disclaimed.

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