Leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, funding to Ontario’s health and safety associations declined by approximately 17 per cent between 2013 to 2020.

On April 28, National Workers’ Day of Mourning for those who lost their lives on the job, CUPE calls on all political parties to commit to improved spending on health and safety training and the reinvestment of Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) budget surpluses back into vital occupational health programs.

“COVID-19 has fundamentally shifted how we think about health and safety at work. But, despite hard lessons learned during this and previous pandemics, we continue to see provincial governments implement stark cuts to our first lines of defence against infectious diseases: awareness and prevention,” says Harry Goslin, President of CUPE 1750 - The Ontario Compensation Employees Union (OCEU), representing more than 3,600 employees at the WSIB and the Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA).

Investment in health and safety training is fundamental to workers’ wellbeing and reduces accidents and injuries in the workplace, and in turn, presents real cost-savings to safe employers.

“Investment in occupational health and safety training results in fewer workplace injuries, fatalities, and WSIB claims,” says Goslin.

For every dollar invested in health and safety, safe employers can see financial gains that can range from $1.24 to $2.14, according to research commissioned by WSIB Ontario.

“Health and safety are based on hard science, not political agendas. With the provincial election around the corner, it’s time for political parties to decide what side of history they want to rest on—the laxation of unpopular, but necessary restrictions or the protection of frontline workers across the province,” says Goslin.