Canadian Plastics

Stronger law updates concept of criminal negligence related to companies

Bill C-45, which recently became law, amends the Criminal Code to help ensure organizations are held accountable wh...

November 26, 2003   Canadian Plastics

Bill C-45, which recently became law, amends the Criminal Code to help ensure organizations are held accountable when they commit criminal offences, including charges of criminal negligence related to occupational health and safety.
"We have taken a major step toward ensuring employers will be held responsible for criminally negligent acts in the workplace," says Minister of Justice, Martin Cauchon.
The legislation would make organizations criminally liable:
– as a result of the actions of senior officers who oversee day-to-day operations, but who may not be directors or executives;
– when officers with executive or operational authority become aware of offences being committed by other employees and do not take action to stop them; or
– when the actions of those with authority and other employees, taken as a whole, demonstrate a lack of care that constitutes criminal negligence.
A statement from a health and safety consulting firm, Occupational Safety Group (London, ON), explains that the new legislation could encompass the actions of operations managers, plant managers, production managers, and so on.
Previously, Canadian law assigned liability to a company when a crime was committed by certain senior employees, namely the "directing minds" of the corporation.
The new legislation also imposes a legal duty on all those who direct work, including employers, to take reasonable measures to protect employee and public safety. Wanton or reckless disregard of this duty causing death or bodily harm would result in a charge of criminal negligence.
A "Plain Language Guide to Bill C-45" is available on the Department of Justice web site at: www.canada.justice.gc.ca/en/dept/pub/c45/index.html.


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