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How the OWA Can Help

What is the Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA)?

The Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA) is an independent agency of the Ontario Ministry of Labour. We provide free and confidential advice and assistance to non-unionized workers who have experienced occupational health and safety reprisals. 

How can the OWA help me?

If you are a non-unionized worker who has been the victim of an occupational health and safety reprisal, the OWA can:

  • give you advice about your rights and how to enforce them
  • represent you in filing an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB)
  • represent you at a mediation, consultation or hearing at the OLRB
  • tell you about other places where you can find help

For more information on enforcing your rights and what happens at the OLRB, see Enforcing Your Rights.

When will the OWA represent me in a health and safety reprisal complaint to the OLRB?

The OWA will represent you in a complaint to the OLRB if:

  • what happened to you would be considered an occupational health and safety reprisal, and
  • there is enough evidence to prove what happened

If what happened to you was not a reprisal, we will try to refer you to another office that may be able to help you.

Is there a charge for OWA services?

No. The OWA’s services are provided free of charge.

Are OWA services confidential?

Yes. The OWA’s services are confidential.

Who can get help from the OWA?

The OWA helps all workers who are not members of a trade union. By law, the OWA cannot provide services to workers who are union members. The OWA considers you to be a member of a union if your reprisal complaint is about a job in which you were a member of a union.

How can I get help from the OWA?

To get help from the OWA regarding an occupational health and safety reprisal, please call us at 1-855-659-7744 (toll-free) or 416-212-5335.

When contacting us, it is helpful if you:

  • call from a location where you can speak privately
  • gather any documents (e.g., letters or forms from your employer or the Ministry of Labour) and have them at hand
  • think about what happened, including the dates and people involved

The OWA provides services in English and French. If you do not speak English or French, it is important to arrange for someone you trust who speaks your language and also speaks English or French to help you when you call us.

Where else can I get help?

The following organizations can also assist you with occupational health and safety issues, including reprisals:

  • The Toronto Workers’ Health and Safety Legal Clinic is a community legal aid clinic that provides free information, legal advice and representation to low income workers who face health and safety problems at work, including reprisals. They can be reached at 416-971-8832.
  • The Ministry of Labour enforces Ontario’s occupational health and safety laws and can answer questions about them. A Ministry of Labour inspector can refer a reprisal complaint to the OLRB on your behalf. (For more information, see Enforcing Your Rights.) The Ministry of Labour can be contacted at 1-877-202-0008. 

Important Information

This publication contains general information only. It is not legal advice about a particular situation and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified representative. This publication was last updated on the revision date listed below.

January 18, 2013