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Duty of care is a legal obligation that frames health and safety responsibilities and obligations.
It applies to an organization’s employees, but can also apply to its volunteers, interns and students.

Case Law on Duty of Care

A review of the case law from an international perspective identifies three essential elements that constitute due diligence: foresight, effectiveness and authority.

Applied to the travel context, due diligence means that the organization must take reasonable precautions, taking into account the particularities of the destination country. The objective is to prevent any event that jeopardizes the safety of its travelers and that could result in physical or psychological injury. The organization also has the obligation to assist the traveler in distress and to provide adequate care in case of accident or illness.

Thus, to meet its legal obligation and to protect itself from potential legal action, an organization must have a safety management strategy for its international activities.

Consequently, all persons involved in the management or supervision of a trip abroad, have an obligation to exercise due diligence at all stages of planning, preparing, and overseeing the trip.

Whether your organization is private, public or non-profit, it must exercise due diligence in ensuring the health and safety of its travelers.

The Canadian Regulatory Framework

The Canadian Criminal Code (section 217.1) states that every person who directs or is authorized to direct the performance of work or the carrying out of a task has the duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to others. Sections 22.1 and 22.2 impose potential criminal liability on organizations and their agents for negligence and other offences.

Anyone working for an organization could be charged with a criminal offence for failing to meet the responsibilities described by the law. Therefore, anyone responsible for supervising and directing a trip abroad must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their travellers.