OH&S Legislation in Canada - Introduction

What occupational health and safety agency covers my workplace?

There are fourteen jurisdictions in Canada - one federal, ten provincial and three territorial each having its own occupational health and safety legislation. For most people in Canada, the agency that you would contact is the provincial or territorial agency in the area where you work. There are some exceptions to this. Federal legislation covers employees of the federal government and Crown agencies and corporations across Canada.

Where can I find out about my duties in Canadian legislation?

Occupational health and safety (OH&S) legislation in Canada outlines the general rights and responsibilities of the employer, the supervisor and the worker. Each of the ten provinces, three territories and the federal government has its own OH&S legislation.

There is special "right-to-know" legislation that applies to hazardous products. It actually comprises several pieces of legislation collectively called WHMIS - the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. It is a comprehensive plan for providing information on hazardous materials intended for use in workplaces. WHMIS applies in all Canadian workplaces which are covered by occupational health and safety legislation and where WHMIS-controlled products are used.

Who is covered under the jurisdiction of the federal government in Canada?

The federal health and safety legislation is commonly referred to as Canada Labour Code Part II and regulations.  The Canada Labour Code also applies to employees of companies or sectors that operate across provincial or international borders. These businesses include:


airports; bullet

banks; bullet

canals; bullet

exploration and development of petroleum on lands subject to federal jurisdiction; bullet

ferries, tunnels and bridges; bullet

grain elevators licensed by the Canadian Grain Commission, and certain feed mills and feed warehouses, flour mills and grain seed cleaning plants; bullet

highway transport; bullet

pipelines; bullet

radio and television broadcasting and cable systems; bullet

railways; bullet

shipping and shipping services; and bullet

telephone and telegraph systems.

Approximately 10% of the Canadian workforce falls under the OH&S jurisdiction of the federal government. The remaining 90% of Canadian workers fall under the legislation of the province or territory where they work.

Who is covered by provincial and territorial jurisdictions?

In each province or territory, there is an act (typically called the Occupational Health and Safety Act or something similar) which applies to most workplaces in that region. The Act usually applies to all workplaces except private homes where work is done by the owner, occupant, or servants. Generally, it does not apply to farming operations unless made to do so by a specific regulation. The legislation should be consulted to find out who is or is not covered.

At the provincial and territorial level, the name of the government department responsible for OH&S varies with each jurisdiction. Usually it is called a ministry or department of labour. In some jurisdictions, it is a workers' compensation board or commission that has the responsibility for occupational health and safety. Each provincial or territorial department is responsible for the administration and enforcement of its occupational health and safety act and regulations. A list of Canadian government departments with chief responsibility for occupational health and safety is available elsewhere on this site.

Document last updated on July 8, 2008
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety

 Division 660 Meetings
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The meetings will be held at Long Branch legion 3850 Lakeshore blvd West.