Monthly Archives: January 2019

Here’s Why Doug Ford’s Changes to Ontario’s Apprenticeship Rules Could Mean More Workplace Injuries

https://pressprogress.ca/heres-why-doug-fords-changes-to-ontarios-apprenticeship-rules-could-mean-more-workplace-injuries/?fbclid=IwAR0gWKi-_M9ZWx0SMOtSE6EbJD1BodRfe8DSPn055rDXgWF6Do7_EKT1FJE

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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.

Letters: Canada as a nation is a Grand Compromise.

https://saugeentimes.com/letters-canada-as-a-nation-is-a-grand-compromise/

Dear Editor:

This age of very aggressive Conservatism and Neo-Liberalism (capitalization on purpose), venturing into the undemocratic, provokes a contradiction, maybe even a surprise for Canadians.

This type of Conservatism and Neo-Liberalism is so ably demonstrated by Doug Ford and his government and by (hopefully never to be) “would be” leaders like Jason Kenny and Andrew Scheer, as well as others already sitting in power or only a whisper away from the seats of political power.

The genesis of this contradiction between these political styles and the fundamental building blocks of civil society in Canada is found by looking back over a variety of news releases, op-eds, surveys, entertainment sources and even pseudo games (such as picking the greatest Canadian) and the evolving of harsh political philosophies. The news releases, op-eds, surveys, entertainment sources and picking the greatest Canadian often refer to the building blocks of Canadian society. Building blocks that strongly tilt to the collective good and a sense of fair play that stand firm in opposition to the profoundly mean-spirited government and the governing by degradation such as that of Doug Ford and his ilk.

It is worth defining one of these building blocks in the terms of the vitriol of the political “right” and “right wing” media. The “right” in North America revels in linking something like a 1950’s McCarthyism definition of socialism to the legitimately compassionate and fair Canadian building block of liberal social democracy.

The liberal social democracy building block is key to our Canadian identity. Such liberal social democracy, contrary to this intentionally inaccurate version as set out by the “right wing”, permits and encourages virtually everything we experience in the current social structure, while ensuring that no one is left behind. Fair and decent wages, benefits and working conditions are enshrined. Further to this, the public good is always considered. This advances public services, public ownership and the rational application of regulations and taxation to benefit the citizenry as compared to benefiting and further enriching only the rich and well off.

The surprise or state of contradiction is between the adoption by so many of these aggressive political philosophies and the various sources mentioned previously and the tendency to show support for a gentler society that includes a healthy dose of liberal social democracy. The nexus of who we are as a people and what so many of us have become is in fact all about liberal social democracy. If it had not been this way, Canada and Canadians, looking out for the collective good and being “my sister and brothers’ keeper”, would have been less likely to prosper and hold itself together.

In 2004, Canadians’ vast numbers were given an opportunity to vote or select the greatest Canadian. On their surface, not all of the top ten could be labelled as socially responsible activists, but the claims to being in the top 10 in this selection process were never connected to aggressive forms of politics that destroy the rights of workers, concentrate wealth and/or damage the environment. In this context Tommy Douglas was granted the title of the Greatest Canadian.

Tommy Douglas was a Canadian politician who served as Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961 and was Leader of the New Democratic Party from 1961 to 1971. A Baptist minister, he was elected to the House of Commons of Canada in 1935 as a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. He left federal politics to become Leader of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and then the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan. His cabinet was the first social democrat government in North America and  introduced the continent’s first single-payer, universal health care program. The single-payer, universal healthcare program, except for those of limitless greed and lacking in any conscience whatsoever, is held with deep pride and affection by Canadians from every corner of the Nation.

Douglas’ selection, without a doubt, was the appropriate choice. More than appropriate, the choice of Tommy Douglas proved a continuum of what Canadians, even if many of them no longer know it or feel it, believe as the most formative and foundational of all that we are, a nation of liberal and social democracy that is embedded in a national identity that wants us all to prosper and to enjoy the collective well being of the nation and all of us.

Canada as a nation is a Grand Compromise.

The joining of massive geography, strong regional and historical identities and people with an intrinsic understanding of what works best for all of us. Proudly, this compromise builds us all up and is fundamentally unchanged from the days Canada first connected through Confederation.

Fundamentally unchanged, except for this aberration of crass and ugly politics that is going to do increasing harm until the conscience of the nation sees to it that this profoundly flawed philosophy is eradicated and the liberal social democracy that has been a thread since day one firmly pushes back and resurrects the politics of inclusion and social responsibility, that once again works towards the collective good.

As we see the current Holiday Season upon us and passing by for another year, we are often reminded of how important it is to be charitable and giving. This spirit more than exemplifies who we really are as Canadians and shows that despite the current leaning of so many in the electorate to fall in with harsh and unfair political philosophies, our true selves as a nation lies on the road that embraces fairness and kindness, or as Jack Layton said, “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So, let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

As we examine the contradiction between the harsh and unfair realities of Conservatism and Neo-Liberalism and the socially responsible building blocks of Canada, it is only a matter of time until we collectively dismiss the Fords and similar ilk, along with their corporate keepers, and adopt or re-adopt that which Jack Layton, Tommy Douglas and our history foretold about us.

We can do better. We deserve to do much better.

Dave Trumble

VP, Bruce, Grey Bruce Labour Council