TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 8, 2016) - The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is committing to fully engaging in the upcoming consultations through the Ministry of Labour, in relationship to Bill 70, Budget Measures Act, Schedule 16 which would see the development of a voluntary new health and safety accreditation program for Ontario workplaces.
The act was passed today in the legislature. The OFL has been vocal in its opposition to the changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The OFL and its affiliated unions had called for the removal of Schedule 16, in order to allow for adequate and comprehensive consultation.
"While we don't believe changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act should have been pushed through without warning, we are deeply committed to ensuring that the voices and concerns of workers are represented in the consultation process," said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Patty Coates. "These changes must be with the goal of making Ontario workplaces safer and healthier."
Coates said that the Federation is heartened by the commitment by Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn to consult extensively with labour in the design of the accreditation program and to having a robust consultation process. The OFL will be encouraging labour unions to play an active role. The Federation is also pleased that the Minister has committed that the new program will not reduce pro-active inspections, which have been a cornerstone to a strong provincial health and safety system.
Schedule 16 could represent a significant change in how health and safety will be administered in workplaces across Ontario. It will introduce a new health and safety accreditation program that could open the door to the creation of an employer self-regulated system. The experiences in other provinces such as Nova Scotia, Alberta and British Columbia in adoption of an employer self-regulated system have not been positive, even drawing criticism from the Alberta Auditor General.
"We are looking to Minister Flynn to ensure a continued effort towards improving the health and safety of Ontario workplaces," said Coates.
"The health and safety gains we've made at work have been hard-fought, often after grave incidents and terrible loss. We do not ever want to go backwards and believe the government has an important role in ensuring we continue to make progress for Ontario workers."
The OFL represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.