CHOICES Logo   What We Do

It's The LAW

CHOICES complies with a number of specific laws and is governed by a wide variety of legislation. Though not an exhaustive list, the following provides some insight into the laws that we must follow.

In general, what does OHSA require?

The main purpose of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is to protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job. It sets out duties for all workplace parties and rights for workers. It establishes procedures for dealing with workplace hazards and provides for enforcement of the law where compliance has not been achieved voluntarily. Fundamental to the successful working of OHSA is the workplace Internal Responsibility System (IRS).

More about the OHSA.

Who is covered by OHSA?

OHSA applies to almost every worker, supervisor, employer and workplace in Ontario, including workplace owners, constructors and suppliers of equipment or materials to workplaces covered by the Act.


What rights does OHSA give to workers?

Workers' rights under OHSA include:

  • The "right to participate" to be part of the process of identifying and resolving health and safety concerns.
  • a face-to-face meeting with one of the DSO team members,
  • The "right to know" about any hazards to which they may be exposed. The requirements of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) are an important example.
  • The "right to refuse work" that they believe is dangerous and, under certain circumstances, members certified with the Joint Health and Safety Certification can stop work that is dangerous.

The Act prohibits reprisals being taken against workers who exercise these rights.

Do workers have duties under OHSA?

Workers have a general duty to take responsibility for personal health and safety, which means they should not behave or operate equipment in a way that would endanger themselves or others. Section 28 of OHSA lists additional specific duties:

  • Work in compliance with the Act and regulations;
  • Use any equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer;
  • Tell the employer or supervisor about any known missing or defective equipment or protective device that may be dangerous;
  • Report any known workplace hazard or violation of the Act to the employer or supervisor;
  • Not remove or make ineffective any protective device required by the employer or by the regulations.

How do workers participate in workplace health and safety?

The main way that workers can participate in workplace health and safety is through exercising their rights and duties in a responsible manner and by supporting their Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). The AWHSC is made up of worker and management representatives and has the power to:

  • Identify hazards
  • Obtain information from employer
  • Make recommendations to employer
  • Investigate work refusals & serious accidents(critical incidents)

What can a worker do about unsafe conditions at work?

Health and safety concerns should first be brought to the attention of the employer or supervisor. If nothing is done, it can be taken to the worker's health and safety representative or Joint Health and Safety Committee. If the situation is not corrected, it can be reported to the nearest office of the Ministry of Labour. Workers also have the right to refuse unsafe work. OHSA Section 43 outlines the procedure that must be followed, and this process should be understood before a refusal is initiated. More information can be obtained from local ministry offices.

What should a worker do if injured at work?

Obviously, an injured worker's first priority should be to get proper medical attention. Ensuring that necessary medical treatment is provided is the responsibility of the employer. It may take the form of first aid from a trained co-worker or require transportation to and treatment at a hospital. The injury-causing incident must also be reported to the worker's supervisor or employer, so that the employer's responsibilities under the act can be met. One of these responsibilities is completion of a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board form (WSIB Form 7). More information on workplace safety insurance is available from the WSIB. The worker has the responsibilities to regularly communicate with both their Employer and the WSIB.


What duties does OHSA place on CHOICES as an employer?

OHSA Sections 25 assigns a mixture of general and specific duties to employers and provides for other duties to be required by the regulation.

Some of the general duties require an employer to:

  • Take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers;
  • Ensure that equipment, materials and protective equipment are maintained in good condition;
  • Provide information, instruction and supervision to protect worker health and safety; and

Some of the specific duties require an employer to:

  • Comply with all regulations made under OHSA;
  • Develop and implement an occupational health and safety program and policy;
  • Post a copy of OHSA in the workplace; and any explanatory material prepared by the Ministry of Labour in the workplace;
  • and Provide health and safety reports to the JHSC. Employers also have duties with respect to workplace violence and workplace harassment.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse sed sollicitudin libero. Ut ex tortor, varius vitae elit vel, dictum semper orci. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Quisque elementum diam in nisl pretium, sed maximus arcu aliquet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam venenatis augue quis ante ultricies, rhoncus condimentum risus dignissim. Pellentesque nec tortor sit amet nunc dictum efficitur.

In 1986, the Government of Ontario passed the French Language Services Act -, guaranteeing an individual's right to receive services in French from Government of Ontario ministries and agencies in designated areas of the province. A new regulation 284/11 - under this law ensures French language services are provided through third parties.

The new Regulation came into force July 1, 2011 but Ministries and third parties have up to three years to comply with the legislation.

The French language office - of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care oversees the application of the French Language Services Act to the health care system in Ontario. A number of hospitals, community health centres, nursing homes, counseling centres and other health-related organizations are required to provide services in French in the province.

On January 1, 2010, Ontario Regulation 515/09 - Engagement with the Francophone Community under Section 16 of the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 came into effect to support coordinated and effective engagement of Francophone communities on French language health services issues. This regulation creates a mandate for French language health planning entities, which operate under the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) - and sets out their duties.

The role of the French language health planning entities is to advise the LHINs on: methods of engaging Francophone community in the area; the health needs and priorities of the Francophone community in the area, the health services available to the Francophone community in the area; the identification and designation of health service providers for the provision of French language health services in the area; strategies to improve access to, accessibility of and integration of French language health services in the local health system; and the planning for and integration of health services in the area.

One in every twenty people in Ontario is a Francophone with the population largely concentrated in Eastern and Northeastern Ontario. A significant proportion of the Francophone population lives in Central Ontario.

As of 2009, Ontario has developed a new, more inclusive definition of Francophone that takes into account the ever increasing diversity of Ontario’s Francophone community and that increases the current Franco-Ontarian population by approximately 50,000. This new definition, which does not have force of law, acknowledges a demographic reality.

  • Ontario is home to 582,685 Francophones (or 4.8% of Ontario’s population), the largest French-language population outside of Quebec.
  • The Francophone population increased by 0.9 % between 2001 and 2006, a continuing trend since 2001.

Ontario also has an Office of Francophone Affairs

Mission and Vision
Created under the French Language Services Act, the Office of Francophone Affairs works together with the ministries to ensure that the Act is applied. With assistance from the French Language Services Coordinators, it ensures that the public has access to services in French in the 25 designated areas. It also provides information on the province's Francophone population to other levels of government and the public. Specifically, the OFA:

  • Supports the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs in the development of French-language services, policies and programs that meet the needs of Ontario's Francophones
  • Provides expert advice on matters relating to Francophones and the delivery of French-language services;
  • Gathers and provides information on Ontario's Francophone community;
  • Acts as a link between the Francophone community and government ministries and their agencies.

Our Vision
The Office is committed to ensuring that Francophones have access to provincial government services in French and that they participate in the social, economic and political life of the province, while maintaining their linguistic and cultural heritage.

Our Mission

  • To help Francophones, as full members of Ontario society, to prosper while respecting their cultural diversity;
  • To assist government ministries and agencies to understand the Francophone community, to maintain relations with this community and to ensure the development and delivery of French-language services.

French language at CHOICES
You will see signage at CHOICES in both official languages. CHOICES is part of the Region of Hamilton Niagara and we work with our colleagues to develop effective and efficient systems to ensure - as a region – we are able to meet our legal requirement to provide services in French. All of the agencies will have a common link to French language explanations of services and we have common brochures regarding French language services.

If you have any questions about French Language services please contact Heather Bruce, Executive Director at 905-628-6147 ext 227 or via email at


Summary of French Language Services Accomplishments Within Developmental Services in Hamilton (pdf)

As of December 1, 2008, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) has oversight of small drinking water systems (SDWS) in Ontario. They are now governed by two new regulations under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA):

  • Ontario Regulation 318/08 (Transitional - Small Drinking Water Systems) and;
  • Ontario Regulation 319/08 (Small Drinking Water Systems).

Because CHOICES has four rural sites that rely on well water, it is important to the health and welfare of the individuals we support to comply with municipal and provincial drinking water regulations.

CHOICES MONITORS the drinking water systems weekly and has the samples tested through a professional lab.

CHOICES has an approved process to TREAT water with a disinfection system if lab results show unacceptable levels of contamination and a PROTOCOL for providing clean water for drinking, cleaning and bathing until the issue is rectified.

CHOICES MAINTAINS the drinking water system by taking good care of the pipes, pumps, valves, storage tanks, reservoirs, meters and fittings through regular inspections and preventative maintenance.

To learn more about Small Drinking Water Systems and Safe Drinking Water go to the website:

On May 9, 2013, Ontario Regulation 150/13 amended the Fire Code (Ontario Regulation 213/07) to enhance fire safety in all occupancies housing vulnerable Ontarians, including Group Homes. It mandates that certain persons successfully complete a program or course approved by the Fire Marshal in order to be able to fulfill their fire safety responsibilities competently. These persons are the following:

  • Persons required to implement emergency planning provisions (Section 2.8 of Division B) of the Fire Code in care occupancies, care and treatment occupancies and retirement homes regulated under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010. They are the owners and operators of such facilities, or their delegates, and are responsible for developing and putting into effect a fire safety plan. The titles of these persons can vary: manager, general manager, executive manager, executive director, chief executive officer, and chief operating officer, to name a few.

All Support Staff and Managers are designated as “supervisory staff” as defined in the Fire Code must also be trained in regard to their fire safety responsibilities. Under the Fire Code, these responsibilities are set out in a building’s fire safety plan. The fire safety plan also specifies what training supervisory staff must receive in order to be able to carry out their assigned duties competently in the building where they are employed. CHOICES has revamped all of it's training programs over the past 3 years not only to satisfy the requirements, but to go above and beyond the new provincial standards.

Along with Fire & Emergency Evacuation drills which take place at least monthly, all Group Homes have an annual inspection by a Fire Prevention Inspector from the Hamilton Fire Department. The Inspection includes a full inspection of the Group Home or site, and a timed Evacuation Frill. Third Party Monitoring by Vipond ensures our fire suppression and emergency systems meet compliance and are fully operational to react in the event of a fire. CHOICES inspects our Day Programs as a best practice.

CHOICES values the resources of the Public Health Department at the City of Hamilton, and uses their expertise and services for the following:
- Annual Inspections of all Group Homes and Day Program Premises by Health Inspectors (as a best proactive to meet our internal Quality Assurance Standards)
- For Health promotion, medical services and medication as per QAM 299/10: Agencies must have rules about providing public health information to the people they support. This can help people make informed choices about their health and can include information on:

  • Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Hygiene
  • Personal safety