Construction Roundtable Discussion – Supreme Court of Canada ruling R. v Greater Sudbury (City)

63 minute read
15 December 2023

On December 5, 2023, Gowling WLG's Construction & Engineering Group hosted a roundtable discussion on the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling in R. v Greater Sudbury (City) and its significant impact on construction and infrastructure projects. This landmark decision has rewritten the rulebook for "Owners" and "Constructors" under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), leading to important implications for the industry.


For decades, Owners have relied on contractual arrangements that delegate day-to-day operational authority to a designated Constructor, allowing Owners to monitor project progress while minimizing their exposure to risks associated with the Constructor and sub-contractors. These arrangements have shielded Owners from liability arising from OHSA violations when they had no control over the project.

However, the Supreme Court's ruling in R. v Greater Sudbury (City) has expanded an Owner's obligations under the OHSA in three key ways:

  • Insulation no longer guaranteed: Engaging a Constructor and granting them full operational control will no longer protect Owners from charges and prosecution under the OHSA, even if incidents are caused by the Constructor's actions or omissions.
  • Broadened definition of "Employer": Owners may now be treated as an "Employer" of all on-site employees, regardless of their employment status with the Owner, Constructor, or third-party sub-contractor.
  • Enhanced obligations: As an Employer under the OHSA, Owners must meet heightened safety obligations for the entire project, including taking "every precaution reasonable in the circumstances" to ensure worker safety.

Failure to consider these exposure points may result in unexpected and increased liability under the OHSA for Owners.

This highly informative webinar, where Gowling WLG's experienced team of lawyers will delve into the implications of this ruling and provide guidance on navigating the new landscape of construction and infrastructure projects.

This program is eligible for up to 1 hour of substantive CPD credits with the LSO, the LSBC and the Barreau du Québec.

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