Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

January 27, 2010 18:26 ET

Ontario Federation of Labour Applauds Creation of Expert Advisory Panel on Workplace Health and Safety

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 27, 2010) - Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan today commended the Ontario government for creating an expert advisory panel to conduct a comprehensive review of the province's occupational health and safety prevention and enforcement system.

"I was very pleased when Minister Fonseca called me this morning to inform me of the decision and request our participation. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting down to work with the rest of the advisory panel," said Ryan. "Certainly this sort of broad-based, wide ranging systemic review is what the labour movement has long been calling for. It's got to be about more than looking at individual incidents. We need to look at all of the elements of the system, and the role of all of the stakeholders involved, and then figure out which changes will save lives in the workplace".

The panel will consist of health and safety experts from unions and labour groups, employers and academic institutions, and will recommend options for structural, operational and policy improvements. The panel will report back to the Ministry of Labour in the Fall of 2010 on a range of issues including:

  • the continuum of safety practices in a workplace and entry level safety training;
  • the impact of the underground economy on health and safety practices;
  • how existing legislation serves worker safety.

"We know that there are changes and improvements that need to be introduced, and we have lots to contribute to that discussion" said Ryan. "But we also want to highlight the need to actually use the laws, regulations and processes that are already on the books."

It is widely acknowledged that accountability and deterrence are cornerstone elements of any workplace health and safety system. For this reason, the Westray Bill, which amended the Criminal Code to allow prosecutions for negligence or wrongful action in workplace accidents, received unanimous all-party support when it was passed into law in 2004.

"But in the six years since Westray passed, it has never been used by the police or Crown Prosecutors, not once. That is in contrast to 14,000 successfully prosecuted charges by the Ministry of Labour over that same time period. We have to ask why that is," said Ryan.

Contact Information

  • Ontario Federation of Labour
    Mike Belmore
    Communications Director
    905.308.4300 (mobile)