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Amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada Copy

Changes were made via Bill C-21 to the Criminal Code in the area of occupational health and safety in 2004.


Sections of the Criminal Code of Canada were amended.

The concept of “organizations” was added to criminal negligence offenses.

An “organisation” can now, as a legal person, be charged with negligence.

Section 22 of the Criminal Code states that an organization is no longer only criminally responsible for the actions of those individuals who are among its “directing minds.” The section states:

(1) Where a person counsels another person to be a party to an offence and that other person is afterwards a party to that offence, the person who counselled is a party to that offence, notwithstanding that the offence was committed in a way different from that which was counselled.

(2) Everyone who counsels another person to be a party to an offence is a party to every offence that the other commits in consequence of the counselling that the person who counselled knew or ought to have known was likely to be committed in consequence of the counselling.

Definition of counsel

(3) For the purposes of this Act, counsel includes procure, solicit or incite.

Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code states that “Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.”

This section therefore creates a duty for employers. Any employer failing in this duty can be considered to have omitted to do something that is part of their duty, as defined in Section 219 of the Criminal Code, and therefore could be accused of criminal negligence.

Section 219 (1) states that “Every one is criminally negligent who:

a) in doing anything, or

b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.


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