Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

December 16, 2010 15:00 ET

As Anniversary of Construction Tragedy Nears, Health and Safety Panels' Reports Welcome but Flawed

Separation of Prevention From Support for Injured Workers Makes no Sense to CUPE Ontario President, who Urges Labour Minister to "Truly put Worker Health and Safety at Forefront".

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 16, 2010) - Labour Minister Peter Fonseca should urge the Government's Expert Panel on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) to explore "other avenues" to ensure working men and women in the Province are safe in their workplaces, the President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, said today.

"While we welcome this report, we must register our concern with some elements," Fred Hahn told reporters at a Queen's Park news conference this afternoon. He was joined by Harry Goslin, President of CUPE Local 1750, which represents provincial Health and Safety employees at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

"Coming as it does almost a year after the tragic events of Christmas Eve in Toronto, we agree the status quo is not an option. However, workers will not be safe in the province until prevention, enforcement and indeed the compensation system are more fully integrated," he added.

Earlier today, Labour Minister Peter Fonseca accepted the Expert Panel's 46 recommendations on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS). The Government commissioned the Panel's report, following the tragic deaths of four construction workers last Christmas Eve in Etobicoke.

One of the Expert Panel's key recommendations is to take prevention responsibilities away from the WSIB. Doing so, warned Hahn, "creates a huge and illogical disconnect between supporting injured workers and preventing them from becoming injured in the first place."

"We think it just makes sense that a public entity whose specific mandate is to assist injured workers needs to play a key role in workplace injury prevention," he added.

Following a more thorough review of the entire report by CUPE members, local union leadership and OHS activists, Hahn said he will "strongly advocate with Minister Fonseca" on how to build a system in Ontario that truly puts worker health and safety at the forefront."

To remedy the gaps and to protect Ontario's workers, Goslin called on the Provincial Government, "to pause and consider an option that ensures all three components of Prevention, Enforcement and Compensation are working in tandem."

Contact Information

  • CUPE Ontario
    Fred Hahn
    CUPE 1750
    Harry Goslin
    CUPE Communications
    Kevin Wilson