Explanatory note for the Ministerial Order to temporarily extend the validity periods for first aid certifications under the regulations pursuant to Part II of the Canada Labour Code

(This note is not part of the Order)

Proposal

This Ministerial Order extends by up to 6 months the maximum periods of validity of first aid (FA) certificates and certifications as well as periods within which courses must be completed pursuant to regulations made under the Canada Labour Code (the Code).

Objective

To ensure that employers and employees in federally regulated work places are not adversely impacted by the requirements for FA certificates, certifications and course and recognize the inability to provide recertification during the pandemic.

Background

Employers subject to Part II of the Code and related occupational health and safety (OHS) regulations must ensure that their employees receive training to keep their FA certificates, certifications, and courses valid.

Most of the OHS regulations pursuant to Part II of the Code have specific FA requirements. Three of these: the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHSR), On-Board Trains Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (OTOHSR) and the Aviation Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (AOHSR), provide a maximum period of validity of 3 years for FA certificates and certifications. The Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (MOHSR) provides a 12-month period within which cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training must be completed before the performance of the specified work.

Standard FA training includes CPR, which is generally delivered in a classroom setting with practice dummies. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and measures of physical distancing, FA training providers have ceased to offer in-person courses during a certain time. This means that employees whose FA certificates have expired during that period were unable to renew their certificates. To date, some FA training providers are now offering Basic, Standard and some other courses either all online, or partially online with some classroom, where provinces permit indoor gatherings.

Without adequate intervention, work places, including those in critical sectors, could have beenimpacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as employees’ FA certificates expired while recertification could not be achieved.

For example, fewer FA certified employees would limit employers’ ability to adequately staff various operations such as those on planes, trains and ships, which is a challenge to providing adequate emergency response. Employers must consider staffing their operations with consideration given to safety and the ability to respond to emergencies.

Implications

The Order from the Minister of Labour will extend by 6 months or until December 31, 2020, whichever comes first, the maximum validity periods of FA certificates and certifications that have expired or will expire in the period beginning on March 13, 2020, and ending on August 31, 2020. The Order will also extend the CPR training recency requirement to 18 months.

The extension provided in the Order from the Minister of Labour will apply to the maximum period of validity, or recency, of:

  • Certificates established at s. 16.12(5) of the COHSR, where:
    • "Basic, standard and advanced first aid certificates, including wilderness first aid courses, are valid for a maximum of 3 years from the date of issue."
  • Certificates and courses established at s. 9.1 (first aid attendant) and s. 9.5(5) of the AOHSR, where:
    • first aid attendant means an employee who has, in the last 3 years, successfully completed the basic first aid course, the standard first aid course or the first aid course for flight attendants. (secouriste)”, and
    • “Basic and standard first aid certificates, basic and standard first aid certifications and first aid certifications for flight attendants are valid for a maximum of 3 years starting on their date of issue.”
  • Courses established at s.111(1)(b) of the MOHSR, where:
    • “The employer must ensure that on board every vessel […] for every work place at which employees are working on live electrical equipment, there is at least one employee who has, in the 12 months before the performance of the work on the electrical equipment, successfully completed a course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation given by an approved organization.”
  • Certificates established at s. 12.7(3) of the OTOHSR, where:
    • “First aid certificates are, for the purposes of this Part, valid for a maximum of 3 years from the date of issue.”

These extensions ensure that businesses who are or were unable to renew the first aid certification of their employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic are not unfairly penalized and can continue their operations while ensuring the health and safety of their workers and Canadians.

No financial and administrative costs and burdens are expected as a result of the Order. On the contrary, the implementation of the Order will prevent occurrences of non-compliance resulting from the non-availability of FA and CPR training.

In order to ensure the successful implementation of the Order, the Labour Program (LP) and its regulatory partners will carry out awareness activities, and follow updated enforcement expectations around FA certification. The LP and its partners at Transport Canada (TC) and the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) will continue to raise stakeholders’ awareness of the challenges in receiving FA certifications, and their responsibilities under the Part II of the Code via outreach and updated web content. The LP will continue to provide all health and safety officers within LP, TC and CER with the instructions necessary to address this issue, and inform them of all changes in policy, including the Order.

Consultation

Informal consultations took place between the LP and stakeholders, including employer and employee groups, as well as regulatory partners.

Departmental contact

Duncan Shaw
Director
Occupational Health and Safety Policy
Labour Program
Employment and Social Development Canada
165 Hôtel-de-Ville Street
Place du Portage, Phase II, 10th floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0J2
Telephone: 819-654-4450
Email: duncan.shaw@labour-travail.gc.ca

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