While COR (Certificate of Recognition) is a nationally recognized standard in Canada, it doesn't mean that every province participates in the program. In fact, out of the 13 provinces and territories in the Great White north, only 11 offer COR certification.

COR is a voluntary program, and even businesses operating in a province or territory that offers COR is under no obligation to be certified. However, as we saw in a previous post, there are many benefits to obtaining a COR, such as a more comprehensive safety program and incentives in the form of premium rebates.

While most of Canada offers the COR program, there always has to be exceptions to the rule. And in this case, those exceptions are Quebec and Prince-Edward-Island. And because they are exceptions, they are just a little bit more complicated to understand.

COR and the CFSA

Before we get into the provinces that don't use COR programs, let's talk about the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Association (CFCSA) and how it relates to COR across the country.

The CFCSA is a committee of provincial construction safety organizations which allows the exchange information with other safety organizations across Canada, as well as participate in decisions that affect them, or the country as a whole (CFCSA does not require unaffected provinces or territories to participate in decisions).

The goals of the CFCSA are to:

  • Advance new initiatives that will enhance the quality and effectiveness of the Certificate of Recognition program
  • Recognize the Certificate of Recognition issued by each of the issuing Provinces that meet the CFCSA standard for the Certificate of Recognition program
  • Facilitate open discussion that balances the common interests of all the groups
  • Recognize the unique provincial needs of individual provincial Construction Safety Associations
  • Promote awareness of construction workplace health and safety management practices
  • Avoid duplication of effort among participating organizations
  • Share products among participating organizations to allow customization by provincial associations
  • Promote employer and worker awareness of successful workplace health and safety programs

However, there are 3 provinces who take a slightly different approach to the COR program: Quebec, Nova Scotia and PEI.

We will go more in depth about Quebec and PEI in the next paragraphs, but let's start with Nova Scotia, as it is the most straight forward.

This maritime province recognizes and certifies companies with COR, however, they are not a member of the CFCSA, and therefore do not participate in the sharing of information or discussions surrounding the national legislation.

Straight forward? Let's throw a little more at you:

Quebec is almost the exact opposite of Nova Scotia.

Quebec does not require a Certificate of Recognition (COR) for any local projects or contracts, but recognizes that it is necessary in order to make successful bids on work in other provinces or territories.

They are home to only one certifying partner, and Quebecois organizations looking to submit an application for a COR should apply through l'Association paritaire pour la santé et la sécurité du travail du secteur de la construction (ASP Construction). Through them, your company will be submitted to a COR audit, and if successful, you will receive a "letter of good standing" confirming that you have been found to be compliant with the requirements of a COR submission.

Because Quebec does not use COR as a provincial standard, your company will then need to ensure that any work conducted or work sites established in other provinces conform to the COR requirements for the specific province you are working in.

Ready? Last one:

This makes PEI the only province in Canada that does not participate in the COR program and a true exception to the national COR standard.

Price-Edward-Island does not utilize the COR standard at all. The smallest Canadian province bases their OH&S programs on the Internal Responsibility System.

At the very core of this system is the belief that OH&S is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace. Islanders use this as the basis for their WCB as well as their provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act.

This provincial standard encompasses everything from the safety roles and responsibilities, to audits and investigations. It also outlines the details and criteria for Workplace Occupational health and Safety Committees and Representatives, Hazard Analysis and training.

(Note: We did find a source that mentioned that commercial contractors on the island could receive a COR through either Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, but we were not able to confirm this with a secondary source.)

To COR or not to COR?

Between the diverse provincial application criteria, the multiple incentives through WCB/WSIB, and, of course, the COR exceptions we've just looked at, you will want to either do a little research or reach out to a COR provider to ensure that you are using the right standard for your area. While the benefits of COR certifications are abundant, it may not be the best or only option for your business. However, by knowing which provinces recognize and encourage having a COR, you will have a better idea of what to expect if your company is bidding on work across the country.

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