TORONTO – Recommendations from the Ministry of Labour’s recently released Expert Panel Report on Occupational Health and Safety will threaten worker safety says Ontario Compensation Employees Union President, CUPE Local 1750, Harry Goslin.
According to Goslin, moving key workplace injury and illness prevention activities out of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to the Ministry of Labour just doesn’t make sense. In a release on March 3, the Ministry of Labour indicated it would take action on proposed recommendations. A key change under consideration will result in the Ministry of Labour (MOL) both offering Ontario employers workplace injury and illness prevention services and, at the same time, carrying out health and safety inspections of those same premises.
Goslin says that employers might well close their doors to prevention officers, if they fear that information gained from a visit aimed at improving health and safety practices could be used against them as part of a safety inspection.
“It’s like biting the hand that feeds you,” says Goslin. “The Ministry could potentially impose double financial hits through administrative charges plus potential health and safety offence penalties.”
If employers close their doors to prevention activities the entire system risks becoming ineffective.
The report also suggests that the WSIB continue funding prevention activities with funds raised from some of Ontario’s employers, which will be used to pay for Prevention and inspectorate duties for all Ontario workplaces. But, there is no plan for the WSIB control over how well over $225 million dollars will be used nor accountability processes to protect the employers who pay. This amounts to an inequitable tax since only 72 per cent of employers in Ontario pay WSIB premiums that cover 100 per cent of Ontario’s Prevention programs. All employers should be paying their fair share.
“How will moving prevention services from the WSIB to the MOL help save worker lives?” asks Goslin. “The Minister of Labour has yet to address this key question. However it happens, it is likely to have a negative effect on the health and safety of Ontario workplaces.”
“To best serve and protect Ontario’s workers from workplace injury, illness and fatality,” Goslin concluded. “The Government should consider an option that effectively structures all three system components - prevention, enforcement, and compensation - so they work in harmony towards a common goal.”
For more information, please contact:
CUPE Local 1750 President
905-676-0030 or toll free 800-268-3371
CUPE Communications Representative