I was looking through the government's website on OHS prosecutions for a book chapter I'm writing. One of the things I noticed in the section outlining pending OHS charges are the gap between an offense and being charged.
Without exception, the province does not file charges until two years after the date of incident. If I recall correctly, the OHS Act has a two-year limitations clause. This systematic delay in charging employers may reflect the complexities of the investigation and/or under-resourcing at some point in the investigation or prosecution stages.
Part of the purpose of charging an employer under the OHS Act is to make an example of the employer in the hopes of encouraging other employers to obey the law. This two-year lag seems to undermine this effect--the link between the event, being charged and being convicted is long and tenuous. In fact, completing a prosecution takes an average of 3-4 years.
This suggests a system of ticketing might be a useful interim step. Former Minister of Employment and Immigration Thomas Lukaszuk indicated legislation (i.e., a regulation) allowing this was being drafted back in September. The status of this initiative is unclear, given there is a new minister and nothing has been heard about ticketing in some time.
-- Bob Barnetson