Monthly Archives: January 2019

Doug Ford Government Moves to Make Workplaces Less Safe

The government of Doug Ford continues to undermine Ontario. Now they are working to weaken a formula that has saved lives and created more than one generation of dedicated H&S Activists. The classroom experience is an integral piece of training and permits invaluable interaction between students and instructors. Not to mention the vast majority of the training takes place to close to home so the out of town piece is misleading.

News Release
Ontario’s Health and Safety Training Heading to 21st Century
Online training will save Ontario businesses approximately $5,000,000
January 31, 2019 8:30 A.M.
Ministry of Labour
Ontario’s government is working for the people to reduce burdens on job creators, as well as workers by improving training programs that certify those who promote health and safety at workplaces.
Today, Minister Laurie Scott brought Ontario’s health & safety training into the 21st century. These changes mean 50,000 Ontario workplaces no longer need to send workers for a five-day classroom course. By cutting red tape, Minister Scott is providing flexibility by making online courses fully available to Ontario businesses, reducing the time needed to take the first part of the course.

Spending up to five days away from family was unfair to Ontario workers and was a major cost to Ontario job creators. Minister Scott is reducing red tape, helping workers and moving Ontario training standards into the 21st century. These changes will save Ontario businesses and other organizations an estimated $5 million per year.

The changes include:

promoting flexibility by allowing training to take place solely online for the first part of the learning, in addition to classroom, blended and distance learning
simplifying the requirements by removing complicated rules and red tape
extending the time to complete the second part of training to within a year of completing the first part, providing more time for employers to schedule training

“I am committed to creating fair and competitive processes for business, dynamic labour markets and safe workplaces for every worker in Ontario,” said Laurie Scott, Minister of Labour. “Our government will make Ontario Open for Business and Open for Jobs by making our province the best jurisdiction in North America to recruit, retain and reward the workers of today and tomorrow.”

Allowing the option of training to take place solely online – in addition to the existing options of classroom, distance and blended learning – reduces travel and accommodation costs for businesses. Businesses will no longer have to pay for travel and accommodation costs for employees to travel for up to five days to take in-person training. These changes will reduce burdens and costs to businesses, while ensuring standardized high-quality training is accessible to all workers across Ontario.

“Joint health and safety committees are a cornerstone of a well-functioning workplace internal responsibility system. These improvements will help workplaces promote a strong health and safety culture by meeting the needs of both employers and workers,” said Ron Kelusky, Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer.
Quick Facts
Generally, workplaces with 20 or more workers are required to have a Joint Health Safety Committee (JHSC) with one certified worker member and one certified employer member.
About 15,000 JHSC members are certified every year in Ontario.
Additional Resources
Joint Health and Safety Committees
Media Contacts
Christine Bujold
Minister’s Office
416-325-6955
Janet Deline
Communications Branch
416-326-7405

Due to weather: January Grey Bruce Labour Council meeting cancelled

Greetings Sisters and Brothers,

    Due to the current weather and forecast of it becoming worse this evening the GBLC January meeting is canceled.  In the event that you have important information to report to council, that you would like shared please send it to me by next Monday February 4th and I will forward the information to council.

 I will be looking to the Executive to bring forward items where motions are or were intended before the 4th of February.

 Please be safe on the roads and on behalf of the Grey Bruce Labour Council I apologize for any inconvenience this cancellation may have caused.

Our next regular meeting is scheduled for February 25th at the OPSEU Office in Owen Sound beginning at 7:00pm.

 Reminder — OSSTF is holding an information picket at MPP Bill Walkers Office on February 7th beginning at 3:30pm (information attached)

Stay warm and safe and we will see you in February.

In Solidarity,

Kevin

Kevin Smith, President

Grey Bruce Labour Council

519-270-2892

gblcpresident@live.ca

 

Vigil, Islamic Ctr, Kincardine, Jan. 29th

Greetings Sisters and Brothers,

                On the evening of January 29, 2017, at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, shortly after the end of evening prayers a mosque in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood of Quebec City, six worshippers were unnecessarily lost their lives and nineteen other innocent people were injured when a lone gunman opened fire just before 8:00pm.  A remembrance vigil is being held on Tuesday January 29th at the Islamic Centre in Kincardine.

 

Please consider attending this vigil on Tuesday at 7PM, commemorating the Quebec Mosque shooting.

“an event at the Islamic Centre (corner of Broadway and Queen, Kincardine) at 7:00 on Tuesday evening.

Word is going out to all the area churches, on social media and in all the online newspaper versions we can find – and hopefully MYFM as well. Please spread the word through your network of friends/colleagues etc.”

In Solidarity,

Kevin

 Kevin Smith, President

Grey Bruce Labour Council

No Cuts to Public Education Rally, Feb 7th, 2019, MPP Bill Walker’s Office

Greetings Sisters and Brothers,

    As you know Doug Ford and the PC Government has made several attacks on public services since being elected.  Within Education he started by reverting the sexual education curriculum, creating a snitch line to report teachers who didn’t conform, cancelled summer math workshops for educators, canceled funding for school repairs, and has cut funding for specialized programs for students.  

 

OSSTF District 7 will be holding an Education Information Rally Thursday, February 7, 2019  from 3:30 to 4:30 pm In front of MPP Bill Walker’s constituency office, located at 920 1st Avenue West, Owen Sound.   

      As a courtesy to the tenants of the building, please do not park in the lot at 920 1st Ave. W.   Please park in municipal parking along the river or at City Hall.   Public washrooms are available at the Owen Sound Public Library.   This will be a peaceful information rally. All are welcome! 

 

Please pass this message and the attached flyer along to all your friends and family and join us on February 7th

no cuts to public education mpp flyer[39653]

 

Media Reports/Pictures, Owen Sound Women’s March, Jan. 19, 2019

The event organizers did an amazing job, many thanks.

Also, thanks to our local media friends. It is seldom anything but a pleasure to see the coverage that local media give to socially responsible events in our region such as this march.

https://saugeentimes.com/owen-sound-holds-first-annual-womens-march/

https://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/news/local-news/participants-brave-the-cold-for-inaugural-womens-march-in-owen-sound

 

 

Please note time changes, Owen Sound Women’s March, Jan 19, 2019

GREY BRUCE LABOUR COUNCIL

 

GREY BRUEC LABOUR COUNCIL SUPPORT WOMEN’S MARCH, JANUARY 19, 2019

 

“Two years ago, on the first full day of Donald Trump’s presidency, women, men and gender non-conforming people, young and old, of diverse faiths, differently abled, immigrants and indigenous – came together, 5 million strong, on all seven continents of the world to march on Washington to protest the loss of women’s rights and freedoms proposed by President Trump.  The premise for this march and all of the other ‘sister marches’ and solidarity pickets occurring around the world was a belief in a world that is equitable, tolerant, just and safe for all.

 

On Saturday, January 19, 2019, to coincide with the Women’s March on Washington 2019, union members along with workers and community members all across Canada will march and gather to show support. ‘The #WomensWave’ together will express profound concerns about the direction government policy is going in Canada, across the world and most notably the regressive policies of conservatives and neo-liberals in government, the corporate world and, far too often, those emboldened to support such regressive policies by the regressive governments everywhere.

 

This year, events are planned in Ontario to mark this anniversary, to show solidarity for women, to push for the advancement of women’s rights, human rights and labour rights in Ontario and to stand against the Trump like policies of the Ford government that attacks workers, public services, women and girls and our communities.

 

Two networks, which grew out of the incredible grassroots efforts of previous year’s marches, are planning marches: Women’s March Canada, and March on Canada.  Initially the Grey Bruce Labour Council was organizing to run a solidarity picket, but we are so pleased to learn that Owen Sound’s first Annual Women’s March going to take place. The Grey Bruce Labour Council is organizing to show support for Owen Sound’s first Annual Women’s March.

The Women’s March is meeting in the Library Auditorium at 2:00pm on January 19th for a rally and community interaction before the march hits the streets. This will also be an opportunity for those who want to get involved but are unable to walk the distance, to participate in a seated (and heated) area.

 

The march will pass in front of MPP Bill Walker’s constituency office. Walker is the Minister of Government and Consumer Services. The office is located 920 1st Avenue West, Suite 100 Owen Sound.

 

The community and labour council affiliates are invited to participate in this march to send a message of support to people the world over saying that the politics of “going backwards” will not stand and that decades of progress will not end with Trump or Ford or any other entity focused of turning the clock back on human rights, women’s rights and labour rights.

For More Information, please Email

Labour Council VP, Dave Trumble dktrumble@gmail.com

 

 

Job-related deaths in Canada dramatically under-reported, study suggests

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/workplace-fatalities-deaths-under-reported-study-1.4973495?fbclid=IwAR1m4yL-FxGfC_a9CNNKi6AxmRX_biXwAFJzFLGnMHPw8c0cUMFAEiRTxB8

Authors estimate true number of workplace deaths 10 times greater than official figures

According to a recent study, the number of workplace fatalities being reported in Canada is dramatically underestimated and could as much as 10 times higher than is generally captured by occupational health and safety statistics. (CBC)

Close to 1,000 Canadians die each year because of their jobs, according to official numbers from Canada’s workers’ compensation agencies. But a new study says that figure is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the true extent of work-related deaths across the country.

The study — titled Work-related deaths in Canada — argues the widely quoted statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Board of Canada (AWCBC) should not solely be used as a benchmark for work-related fatalities, as these figures only take into account approved compensation claims.

As a result, thousands of deaths — such as workers exempt from coverage, stress-induced suicides, commuting fatalities and occupational disease — are missing from occupational health and safety statistics, it says.

“This situation is akin to crime statistics only ever including solved homicides, therein leaving the impression that attempted murders, unsolved murders or suspicious deaths are not a concern,” the study’s authors wrote.

Steve Bittle, an associate criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, spearheaded the research. (CBC)

Our notion of what constitutes a workplace fatality is too narrow and it is a mistake to count work-related fatalities through our compensation regimes, says Steven Bittle, an associate criminology professor at the University of Ottawa who spearheaded the research, which was published in November.

Last year, workers’ compensation boards across the country approved a total of 904 claims involving fatalities. About one-third of those cases involved acute accidents, with the rest due to longer-term illnesses from occupational exposure.

Bittle’s team estimates that a more accurate figure hovers between 10,000 to 13,000 deaths annually.

Non-reporting and under-reported fatalities

Depending on the province, between 70 and 98 per cent of the workforce is covered by a public workers’ compensation system. But that means there are well more than two million workers in Canada whose deaths would escape official statistics.

Excluded occupations could include the self-employed, domestic helpers, banking employees and farmers, among others.

The latest AWCBC figures show that in Ontario, only 24 per cent of the approximate 7.1 million working Ontarians are covered by a workers’ compensation regime.

Bittle’s paper also cites a 2015 study from the University of British Columbia that found an average of six fatalities per year that were not on WorkSafeBC’s radar. Many of these cases involved deaths that occurred in hospital, days after the workplace event.

The authors further estimate about 64 farming deaths escape official statistics each year.

The study estimates about about 64 farming deaths aren’t reflected in annual occupational health and safety statistics. (CBC)

Morag Marjerison, a farm-safety consultant based in Brandon, Man., agrees that the dearth of data is problematic. In Manitoba, farm owners and their family members are exempt from mandatory coverage.

“I think it’s really a problem in that we don’t ever see the true picture. Whenever I’m looking at training, trying to educate [farmers], we’re always showing what look like low statistics, when we know that’s not the reality of what’s happening,” she said.

“I think if everyone that works in safety saw the reality of how frequently the same things happen over again and again, attention could be paid to the bigger issues.”

Commuters and bystanders

One of the more contentious elements of Bittle’s study, he admits, is the idea that deaths while commuting to and from work are worth including in workplace-fatality statistics. He estimates there are about 460 commuting deaths a year — and the goal of their inclusion is to start a conversation about some broader issues.

“We live in a culture of presenteeism, where people are expected to be at work — at least culturally expected to be at work, if not through pressures in their workforce — regardless of whether they’re ill or whether the weather conditions are such that they shouldn’t be driving at that particular time,” he said.

The 2013 death of an Alberta intern who was killed while driving home after a 16-hour shift at a local radio station highlighted the potentially dangerous relationship between commuting and workload.

The study also suggests that non-workers who die collaterally could be included, such as a spouse who dies after repeatedly being exposed to asbestos from years of washing their partner’s clothes, or a pedestrian crushed in a scaffolding collapse while walking near a job site.

Suicides: ‘Extreme stresses’

In 2017, a Saskatchewan man employed by a small rural municipality took his own life after struggling with mental-health issues found to have been exacerbated by his work. The province’s WCB partly attributed the death to his employer.

Situations like these are rarely covered, and the study suggests the number of suicide-related claims is drastically underestimated.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada published a study last year that found Canadian employees reported workplace stress as the primary cause of their mental-health concerns.

Bittle believes between 10 and 17 per cent of annual suicides in Canada could be classified as work-related, representing a range of 400 to 800 fatalities each year.

Mara Grunau, executive director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention, agrees that while the links between work and mental health exist, proving it caused a person to take their life is difficult.

“In our culture, we spend hours and hours at work. And the way we feel about work, and the way we interact with the people at work, affects who we are,” she said. “If work is a miserable place to be, it affects other aspects of our life.”

And while there are “many contributing factors” that can lead a person to that point of desperation, Grunau says “the research would not bear out one big, bad thing that is going to absolutely cause somebody to die by suicide.”

Cancer and disease

Ultimately, the study concludes that the single biggest category for underestimation relates to cancer and disease.

Currently, between 500 and 600 approved WCB claims nationwide are the result of occupational disease. But Bittle estimates a figure that is upward of 8,000 deaths.

Amendments to Prince Edward Island’s Workers Compensation Act came into force just last week, giving firefighters presumptive coverage for certain types of cancers and illnesses. P.E.I. was last province to make these changes

Former General Electric worker Sue James has been fighting for compensation for hundreds of retired workers based in Peterborough, Ont., who suffer from what is alleged to be occupational disease. (CBC)

While firefighters’ unions have been successful in their lobbying, other employer groups have not.

Former General Electric worker Sue James has been fighting for compensation for hundreds of retired workers based in Peterborough, Ont., who suffer from what is alleged to be occupational disease due in large part to repeated exposure to industrial chemicals. Her father died of cancer following three decades of working in that plant.

James has successfully lobbied the Ontario government to reopen hundreds of previously denied WSIB claims.

“The burden of proof is so high. I mean, you almost have to have swam in a vat of trichloroethylene or in asbestos in order to get claims. So there’s been a huge resistance … to believe what we’re trying to say happened there,” she said.

Bittle says his report didn’t seek to address how to better gather data, as the objective was to clearly lay out the issue of under-reported workplace deaths.

“What we do say is that, at the very least, there is a leadership role that the federal government could and should take in order to initiate discussions on this very topic.”

Employment and Social Development Canada agrees that better data collection is needed and said some initiatives are already underway.

“The Labour Program is … currently funding a research study that looks at illnesses prevalent in workers in the federal jurisdiction, as well as engaging in exploratory work with Statistics Canada’s labour statistics directorate on further workplace injury data,” said a spokesperson for the federal department.

WOMEN’S MARCH, JANUARY 19, 2019, Solidarity Picket, Owen Sound

WOMEN’S MARCH, JANUARY 19, 2019

 

“Two years ago, on the first full day of Donald Trump’s presidency, women, men and gender non-conforming people, young and old, of diverse faiths, differently abled, immigrants and indigenous – came together, 5 million strong, on all seven continents of the world”1 to march on Washington to protest the loss of women’s rights and freedoms proposed by President Trump.  The premise for this march and all of the other ‘sister marches’ and solidarity pickets occurring around the world was a belief in a world that is equitable, tolerant, just and safe for all.

 

On Saturday, January 19, 2019, to coincide with the Women’s March on Washington 2019, union members along with workers and community members all across Canada will march and gather to show support. ‘The #WomensWave’ together will express profound concerns about the direction government policy is going in Canada, across the world and most notably the regressive policies of conservatives and neo-liberals in government, the corporate world and, far too often, those emboldened to support such regressive policies by the regressive governments everywhere.

 

This year, events are planned in Ontario to mark this anniversary, to show solidarity for women, to push for the advancement of women’s rights, human rights and labour rights in Ontario and to stand against the Trump like policies of the Ford government that attacks workers, public services, women and girls and our communities.

 

Two networks, which grew out of the incredible grassroots efforts of previous year’s marches, are planning marches: Women’s March Canada, and March on Canada.  Locally, the Grey Bruce Labour Council is organizing a solidarity picket outside of MPP Bill Walker’s constituency office. Walker is the Minister of Government and Consumer Services. The office is located 920 1st Avenue West, Suite 100 Owen Sound.

 

The community and labour council affiliates are invited to participate in this solidarity picket and to send a message of support to people the world over saying that the politics of “going backwards” will not stand and that decades of progress will not end with Trump or Ford or any other entity focused of turning the clock back on human rights, women’s rights and labour rights. We ask people to gather near Walker’s office for 10:15 AM. The picket will commence at 10:30 and last for about an hour. It is hoped that participants will bring flags and banners.

 

For More Information, please Email

Labour Council VP, Dave Trumble dktrumble@gmail.com

 

Walkerton water tragedy produced too much red tape, says Tory MPP Lisa Thompson

https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2014/03/11/walkerton_water_tragedy_resulted_in_too_much_red_tape_says_tory_mpp_lisa_thompson.html?fbclid=IwAR0C524dFDTfo9uYkfB0ThAoEH-mOzpYOim2NV3pSvuQ8QXVgVNvK00pHcQ

ust like a Conservative or those of the conservative/neo-liberal inclination anywhere. Not an ounce of understanding or compassion. Regulations for food and water supply along with critical regulations for health and safety are all written in the blood and suffering of people/workers. Not one politician of this ilk ever wakes up and “says what can I do today to protect and better the lives of my constituents”? No, that pressure comes about because people that have witnessed and experienced injury, illness, death and loss become or join together with socially responsible people to apply the pressure to politicians of this ilk to make changes that mitigate such hardship. Thompson’s choice of words is a callous disregard for people who have died and the thousands made sick in not only Walkerton, but across the country when it comes to the need for strict regulations to protect lives. Shame on her and shame on the entire Ontario PC Caucus if the choose to remain silent on her ignorance and lack of understanding and compassion.