I don’t agree with a Ministry of Labour inspector. What can I do?

If you or another worker makes a complaint about health and safety issues to the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry may send an inspector to your workplace. The inspector will look at the situation and to make sure the rules are being followed.

The inspector will investigate and use the facts they gather to make a decision about the issue. The inspector will write a report of their findings and give a copy of it to your employer and your health and safety representative.

Your employer must post the inspector's report in the workplace where workers are most likely to see it.

If you gave your name when you made the complaint, you can also ask for your own copy of the report by calling the Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.

If you don't agree with the inspector's decision, you can ask the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to change it. This is called appealing the decision of an inspector.

When to contact the OLRB

You must get an inspector's decision before you can to the OLRB. Once you get that decision, you have 30 days to appeal to the OLRB.

But, if your employer punishes you for complaining about safety, you can apply to the OLRB right away. You don't need to wait for the inspector's decision.

If you are a member, the union must decide whether to make a safety complaint about your issue to the OLRB. So you should talk to your union representative first about the problem.

If you ask the OLRB to change the inspector's decision, you might have to go to an OLRB hearing.

Hearings can be expensive and difficult. The OLRB doesn't charge you fees. And if you lose, you don't have to pay your employer back for what they spent on your hearing. But you could have your own expenses like paying for a legal representative, preparing documents, or paying for a witness to come to your hearing.

Before you contact the OLRB, you should learn more about what will happen.

Get legal help

If you don't have a union, you should try to get legal help with your OLRB claim.

A lawyer or paralegal can give you advice about the law. They can also draft your application and represent you at your hearing.

The Law Society Referral Service can give you the name of a lawyer or paralegal you can consult with for free for up to 30 minutes.

JusticeNet is a not-for-profit organization that can help people find legal services when their income is too high for legal aid and too low to afford legal fees. Their website has a list of lawyers, paralegals, and mediators who charge reduced fees based on your income and the size of your family. You must register and pay a small fee to use their services.

You can also contact the Workers’ Health & Safety Legal Clinic, which helps people with low incomes who are having health and safety problems at work. Some community legal clinics also help with these problems.

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