Photo of Jonathan D. Cocker

Jonathan Cocker heads the Firm’s Environment & Environmental Markets Practice Group in Toronto and is an active member of its Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining & Infrastructure industry groups. He authored the Global Climate Change Law Guide, and has worked with the Management Board Secretariat of the Government of Ontario. Mr. Cocker has represented a wide range of clients before various administrative boards, the Superior Court of Justice and the Federal Court of Canada, among others. Mr. Cocker routinely advises multinational companies on various environmental health and safety matters, as well as related regulatory issues. He also handles legal matters relating to environmental compliance and project development, including UNFCC-related Clean Development Mechanism projects, greenfields and brownfields transactions. Mr. Cocker's practice also covers permitting and approvals work for clean energy projects. He is knowledgeable in related regulatory fields, including hazardous waste obligations and the requirements for the transportation of dangerous goods.

The range of potential sanctions under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act are vast and, on its surface, potentially ominous for even the most minor of OHSA infractions. Companies in non-compliance with a health or safety requirement are seemingly at the mercy of the Ministry as to whether they prosecute (in addition to orders and penalties) and, if so, whether they pursue fines or even (gulp) incarceration.

Whereas the range of fines for various types of breaches and resulting harms are somewhat predictable, the circumstances where a Court will take the extraordinary step of ordering jail time has been somewhat of a black box. The recent decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal, Ontario (Labour) v. New Mex Canada Inc., may have changed this.
Continue Reading

Until recently, about the only workplaces where employers had to worry about noise levels were factories, mines and oil rigs.

That all changed December 9th of last year when Regulation 381/15 was approved. Set to take effect July 1, 2016, the regulation extends noise protection requirements to the following workplaces:

  • farming operations,
  • construction projects,
  • health care facilities,
  • schools,
  • fire services,
  • police services, and
  • amusement parks


Continue Reading

Under British Columbia’s Workers Compensation Act (“Act”) an employer must immediately notify WorkSafeBC of a workplace accident that (among other things):

  • results in serious injury or death to a worker
  • involves a major structural failure or collapse
  • involves the major release of a hazardous substance

When such accidents occur, the scene of the accident must not be disturbed until an investigation has taken place.

At first glance the “reporting requirement” is clear. But in practice it can give rise to uncertainty. For example, if the worksite is not owned by the employer, must the owner report? And who is responsible for reporting incidents when there are multiple employers on a single worksite?
Continue Reading

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s decision to reinstate Sharon Fair almost 10 years after her employment was terminated has been upheld by the Ontario Divisional Court.  This decision may signal an increase in reinstatement orders at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (“HRTO”), and in civil cases involving allegations of discrimination under the Human Rights Code.
Continue Reading

Corporate restructuring often requires an employee to change roles. If that change constitutes a fundamental change to the employee’s employment contract, the employer may become liable to that employee for a constructive dismissal. But how significant must the change be to qualify as a “fundamental change” resulting in constructive dismissal?
Continue Reading