Bill 59: What’s New?

Bill 59: What’s New?


Occupational health and safety are constantly evolving. That’s why standards and laws are adapting to the new work realities.

The current government wants to stop the rise of work accidents in Quebec. For that reason, Bill 59 was adopted on September 30, 2021, to modernize occupational health and safety in the province. However, for the CNESST, this reform was expected for a very long time. It had been more than 35 years since a reform of that importance had happened in that field.

What is the Bill 59 all about?

What are the objectives of Bill 59?

The primary objective is to reduce the amount of work injury with loss time and improve the treatment of wounded workers. According to the government, fewer injuries and a reduction of lost time due to injuries are an excellent engine for the economy and the workers’ wellbeing.

Here are Bill 59 main objectives:

  • The creation of a scientific committee on occupational illnesses (5 members of the medical and scientific community will provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Labour).
  • Claims submitted late are valid and will be acknowledged (the claim right starts at the moment of submission and not at the start of the illness or disability).
  • The separation between the board chairman and the CNESST chief executive officer for improved governance and representation.
  • Modernization of many law articles on work accidents and occupational illnesses for better representation in the current reality. To learn more about it, consult the page about Bill 59 of the Assemblée Nationale du Quebec.
  • Simplified access to the compensation plan.
  • Better support to workers who suffer an occupational injury.
  • Better support for employers.
  • Encourage employers to implement prevention measures to protect the health and safety of workers. The CNESST will develop a certification program and financial incentives for employers who want to become certified according to the standards of this new law.
  • The implementation of a health and safety representative on worksites and the definition of his or her role (when 10 to 99 workers are on a worksite simultaneously).

What does Bill 59 mean for employers?

Employers will have the obligation to implement a prevention program that responds to the level of risk of the workplace and the activities performed. The level of risk will be categorized according to 3 levels: low, medium, and high. In addition, it will be the employer's duty to ensure the safety and protection of a worker who is faced with a situation of psychological or physical violence at the workplace.

Employers will be strongly encouraged to put in place health and safety programs or protocols by the CNESST. As described above, the CNESST will be granted new powers, including the possibility of giving incentives and certifications to employers who will adequately protect their employees concerning OHS.

Where a worksite has 100 or more employees at the same time, or where the cost of the project exceeds $12 million, the project manager will have to designate one or more health and safety coordinators. In addition, when there are 10 or more workers on a worksite at the same time, the project manager must develop a prevention program. He must then transmit the program to the CNESST before the work begins. This last condition applies when a worksite has at least 20 workers simultaneously.

Finally, one of the most important changes in the health and safety regime concerns charging costs. Employers will have to prove that the employee's disability was present before the work injury and that the work environment had nothing to do with the injury. The law also explains that a worker's wilful negligence may be a reason for transferring the charge. A final decision must be made regarding the eligibility for this transfer.