How Can You Make Sound Workplace Safety and Health Policy Without Ever Talking to Workers?
"The cost savings are negligible and the last thing our province needs right now is more top-down, single-minded legislation that ignores the experience and ideas of those of us who are actually on work sites, doing the work."
Dec 13, 2017
On December 4, the government announced it would be cutting or consolidating 25
provincially-appointed Boards, Councils, Committees and Commissions.
The Advisory Council on Matters Related to Workplace Safety and Health is among those being eliminated altogether, which is very bad news for all of us who go into a workplace every day.
Since 1976, the Advisory Council has allowed employers, workplace safety and health experts, and workers to come together, consult, and discuss joint solutions to make our jobs safer and healthier. Operating on a consensus model, all parties agree to listen respectfully to the interests of other Council members and industry stakeholders, especially when it comes to legislative change.
Through the economic ups-and-downs and technological advances of the last half century, successive Manitoba governments have understood this. On a regular basis, the Advisory Council has met to discuss legislative review, the administration of safety and health law, and how both impact the everyday experience of Manitoba workers.
It’s a model that has led to historic and ongoing strides in keeping workers safe throughout the country. In fact, here are just a few examples of the Manitoba Council’s accomplishments since 2002:
- 2002 – established a 5-year review cycle of the WSH Act
- 2007 – consolidated the WSH Act and regulations into a single user-friendly document
- 2007-2014 – made regulatory amendments to recognize harassment and violence as legitimate safety and health concerns
- 2014 – introduced a plain language description of worker rights (to know, to participate, to refuse dangerous work and protection from discriminatory action)
The government claims they are trying to cut costs, which seems short-sighted at best and downright dangerous at worst. The cost savings are negligible and the last thing our province needs right now is more top-down, single-minded legislation that ignores the experience and ideas of those of us who are actually on work sites, doing the work.
Even employers and business leaders think it’s misguided to eliminate the Council. But it doesn’t appear that commonsense will prevail.
Whatever the government hopes to save by cancelling these consultative meetings, they seem to think it’s worth more than providing an established and proven community approach to workplace safety and health.
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