June 28, 2018
Changes to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act
On July 1, 2018, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 will come into force to repeal and replace the Electronic Cigarettes Act, 2015 and the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 contains provisions that will govern the use of medical cannabis at work, as well as the necessary steps employers must take to notify employees of the associated prohibitions. The use of recreational cannabis will be governed by the Cannabis Act, 2017, which received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018. The Cannabis Act, 2017 will prohibit the use of recreational cannabis in public places and workplaces. For additional information regarding the legalization of recreational cannabis, please see our earlier In A Flash article, Recreational Cannabis Legalized as of October 17, 2018.
Section 12(1) of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (the “Act”) specifically prohibits a person from smoking or holding lighted medical cannabis in “prohibited places,” which include enclosed workplaces. The same prohibition will apply to the smoking or holding of lighted tobacco, and the use of electronic cigarettes.
Section 14(1) of the Act sets out employer obligations with respect to enclosed workplaces. These obligations include the requirement that employers ensure that medical cannabis, tobacco, and e-cigarettes are not utilized in enclosed workplaces, in accordance with section 12(1); the requirement to give notice to employees of the prohibitions regarding the use of medical cannabis, tobacco, and e-cigarettes in enclosed workplaces, which includes the posting of any prescribed signs; ensuring that no ashtrays or similar equipment remain in the enclosed workplace; ensuring that individuals who do not comply with the prohibition on using medical cannabis, tobacco, or e-cigarettes in an enclosed workplace do not stay within the enclosed workplace; and ensuring compliance with any other prescribed obligations.
Failure to comply with the requirements under section 12(1) and section 14(1) of the Act will result in penalties as newly prescribed under Part I of the Provincial Offences Act. These new penalties include sanctions for the inappropriate use of medical cannabis by individuals. Employers will also face penalties for failing to ensure compliance with section 14(1) of the Act, and the set fines for such infractions will range from $250.00 to $300.00. Employers should therefore be diligent in ensuring compliance with the new Act through the use of appropriate signage setting out the limitations and restrictions applicable to the use of medical cannabis, tobacco, and electronic cigarettes within the workplace.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer directly for more assistance.