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Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces Strategy

Learn about Ontario’s vision and strategy for the occupational health and safety system, and how to align your organization with our collective priorities.

Message from the Minister of Labour

I am pleased to present Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces – A Strategy for Transforming Occupational Health and Safety. The first of its kind in our province!

Through the release of this strategy, we are taking action to transform Ontario’s occupational health and safety system and eliminate preventable workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

The development of this strategy was a key recommendation of the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety. It provides a framework through which the remaining panel recommendations can be achieved and will guide and align our future efforts to make sure Ontario continues to be one of the safest jurisdictions.

We all must work together to create the lasting change it envisions. The Ministry will use this framework to guide its efforts going forward, and will work with business, employee groups, and our health and safety partners to create a culture where health and safety is at the centre of the workplace.

I want to thank the Chief Prevention Officer, the business groups, labour, community and the countless voices from across Ontario who participated in the development of this plan, and who shared their knowledge and expertise in this collaborative and meaningful effort. Through the development and implementation of this strategy, we are investing in our workforce and our businesses to ensure we live and work in a safer and more productive Ontario.

This is a prevention framework for everyone to embrace, and I look forward to moving ahead, together, to ensure we continue to transform Ontario’s health and safety system.

Sincerely,
Yasir Naqvi
Minister of Labour

Message from the Chief Prevention Officer

Since becoming Chief Prevention Officer, I have spent many hours listening to, and learning from, parents, workers, employers, health and safety practitioners, and industry and government leaders. I have heard about their beliefs, experiences and expectations for workplace health and safety in Ontario. The common message that comes out loud and clear is that workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses are unnecessary, unacceptable and preventable.

This inaugural province- wide strategy is our blueprint for realizing the vision of healthy and safe Ontario workplaces over the next five years. To realize that vision, the strategy establishes two goals for Ontario’s occupational health and safety system. It targets the areas of greatest need and enhances service delivery. It also sets strategic priorities to guide system partners, the workplace parties (employers, supervisors and workers) and all other relevant occupational health and safety organizations as they work together to achieve the goals.

The strategy builds on the recommendations of the 2010 report of the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety. We have been moving forward with implementing the panel’s 46 recommendations, including structural changes, mandatory safety training and improvements targeted at specific occupational health and safety issues. These recommendations provide a strong foundation for the implementation of the strategy.

Most importantly, the strategy recognizes that, to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses, all the players in the system need to urgently move forward with an unprecedented degree of determination. The strategy will be the basis for the system partners to work in an integrated and collaborative fashion. It will guide the planning, coordination and delivery of integrated activities, programs and services over the next five years to achieve common goals. In an environment where the workforce and workplaces will continue to change, this strategy will guide us in addressing the areas of greatest need in a flexible and adaptable manner.

This first-of-its-kind province-wide strategy is an important step forward in transforming the diverse occupational health and safety institutions into a cohesive, integrated system focused on clearly articulated goals and priorities, and driven by evidence of impact where possible. It is essential to emphasize that this is not just the Ministry of Labour’s strategy. It is a strategy for all organizations involved in occupational health and safety, including those providing enforcement, training, awareness, advisory, insurance, clinical, outreach and research services. Leadership at all levels will be fundamental to achieving this vision. We are all in this together.

The development of a provincial strategy is a significant accomplishment for the ministry and the system. It reflects ongoing advice from the Prevention Council, as well as extensive consultation with our partners, worker and employer representatives, individual members of the public and community organizations.

This strategy fulfils my obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 22.3(3) to develop a provincial occupational health and safety strategy. However, our intent is not only to meet the legislative requirement, it is to bring together the expertise, knowledge and passion of the system to prevent workplace illnesses and injuries in Ontario. We will be reviewing our progress and strategic priorities in forthcoming annual reports on the system, as recommended in the panel’s report and reflected in legislation.

I want to thank everyone for their contributions to this strategy and ask for their continued engagement in implementing initiatives to achieve the vision of healthy and safe Ontario workplaces.

Sincerely,
George Gritziotis
Chief Prevention Officer,
Ontario Ministry of Labour

Introduction

Workplace health and safety affects the wellbeing, success and prosperity of individuals, families, businesses, communities and our province.

The purpose of this strategy is to guide the occupational health and safety system partners – including the Ministry of Labour, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and Ontario’s six Health and Safety Associations – and describe how we can achieve our vision. The strategy also aims to guide workplaces across the province, the broader community of health and safety practitioners, and organizations with interests in occupational health and safety. Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces sets out a roadmap that organizations can use to align their policies, programs and initiatives with our collective strategic priorities.

The ministry has gone to great lengths to develop a strategy that will have a significant positive impact on occupational health and safety across Ontario, including consulting extensively with the public and our stakeholders about what matters most to them. Hundreds of voices participated in this process. We heard from more than 1,250 consultation participants and received 220 responses to the consultation paper released on March 18, 2013. The strategy was guided by input from the 11-member Prevention Council. The council provided thoughtful advice to help create a strategy that represents Ontario’s health and safety needs. The input from all our stakeholders is reflected throughout the strategy, providing insight on our vision, how we can achieve the vision and why it is important for us to act now.


Footnotes

  • footnote[1] Back to paragraph “All workplaces” refers to those under provincial jurisdiction; this does not include: work done by the owner or occupant or a servant in a private residence or on the connected land; or workplaces under federal jurisdiction.
Updated: May 31, 2022
Published: February 26, 2018