Bill C-45 and the Canadian Petroleum Industry


  • Norm Keith
  • James Ferguson



Energy Law, Petroleum Law


This article examines Bill C-45 and its possible impact on the Canadian Petroleum Industry. Bill C- 45, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, establishes a new occupational health and safety (OHS) duty in the Criminal Code. If the duty is breached, either by individuals or organizations, it may result in a criminal charge of occupational health and safety criminal negligence. Bill C-45 also changes the means by which organizations, including corporations, are held liable for offences under the Criminal Code. The "identification theory" of corporate criminal liability has now been replaced by two provisions in the Criminal Code to address the criminal liability of organizations. The first provision, which deals with offences such as the new OHS criminal negligence offence, requires proof of negligence. The second deals with a more classic objective fault element or mens rea. The Canadian petroleum industry, especially in Alberta, has often relied upon outsourcing, contract provisions and structuring of relationships to minimize OHS legal liability under applicable OHS statutes. However, there is no legal basis to contract out of the Criminal Code. It is more important than ever to emphasize proper contract language, indemnity provisions and OHS management systems.