July 12, 2021
Small businesses in Ontario now have access to free health and safety training.

Through the new Small Business Health and Safety Training Program, the Ontario government will invest $10.5 million over the next three years to train up to 60,000 health and safety representatives. 

Alongside the free course, businesses will also receive $150 to cover the cost of the health and safety rep’s training time. 

Bill Roy, director of the Strategy and Integration Branch for the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, outlined the new program during a virtual town hall meeting, hosted by Landscape Ontario’s COVID-19 Task Force on July 21. 

“We’re really hoping this will start to bring health and safety culture a little more into the workplace,” Roy said. “Our goal is to hit 20,000 businesses a year. We have the funds, it's a commitment in the budget and it's exciting for us.”

The training grant is available to businesses with six to 19 employees, which are legally required to appoint a health and safety rep.

The online training course is available through Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS), and takes about six to eight hours to complete.

The program will cover a range of topics, including:

  • Occupational health and safety laws
  • Rights, duties and responsibilities of workplace parties
  • Duties and responsibilities of the health and safety representative under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 
  • Recognition, assessment, control and evaluation of common workplace hazards

A health and safety representative’s duties include regular inspections of the workplace, identifying possible hazards, making recommendations for improvements and ensuring health and safety resources are available to employees.
While about 130,000 small businesses in Ontario are required to have a health and safety rep, training is optional. 

“I think that a lot of small businesses have obviously been hurting through COVID, but they may not necessarily talk much with government,” Roy said. 

“Certainly you would know what you need to do as far as registering and being with the WSIB and paying taxes, but health and safety isn’t always top of mind. So we want to be able to make sure we can offer incentives to small businesses to get their workers trained.”

Once training is complete, health and safety reps will be provided with a certificate to apply for a refund of the $25 course registration fee and receive the $150 toward the cost of training time.

Businesses can apply for funding twice, with a second allowance permitted for staff turnover. Franchises with unique business numbers are also eligible for funding.

For more information, or to register, visit  http://wsps.ca.