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Statement to the Legislature
By Charles Sousa
Minister of Labour
Regarding the Introduction of:
The Occupational Health and Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2011

  • Issued: March 3, 2011
  • Content last reviewed: March 2011

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Speaker, I rise for the introduction of the Occupational Health and Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2011

This proposed legislation is about laying the foundation, and building the framework, for a new and more effective occupational health and safety system in Ontario.

Our goal is to protect the working men and women of this province, and to accomplish this through the efforts and input of both employees and employers.

Speaker, on December 16, 2010 the Expert Advisory Panel led by Tony Dean, delivered its final report.

As many know, Mr. Dean is a former Secretary of Cabinet , and is a professor in the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto.

This Expert Advisory Panel included representatives from labour, business, and academia with workplace health and safety experience and expertise.

The final recommendations of this Expert Advisory Panel struck a balance between two key factors:

  • a need to provide better protection and support for workers — especially young and new workers and recent immigrants, and
  • a need to improve compliance supports for the business community (particularly small businesses).

I would like to take this opportunity to thank and show our appreciation for the hard, dedicated work the members of the panel accomplished.

Their approach made a consensus report possible, and consensus on such a critically important matter is invaluable.

Speaker, as we bring this proposed legislation forward, we would hope it will be considered in the same atmosphere of mutual respect and co-operation that existed on the Expert Panel, and that we constantly remember that we share the common goal of keeping Ontarians safe.

Overall, the Expert Panel received more than 400 responses and submissions during consultations, and conducted more than 50 meetings with stakeholders across the province.

Our proposed legislation, based on the Panel’s report, is a road map for making lasting changes to our occupational health and safety system that will benefit all Ontarians, employees and employers alike.

We believe these changes, if passed, will save lives, and help prevent injuries for years to come.

Under our proposed amendments, Speaker:

  • The Ministry would assume responsibility for prevention.
  • A new Chief Prevention Officer, reporting to the Minister of Labour on strategic priorities, would provide leadership on the prevention of workplace injury and occupational diseases.
  • The Ministry of Labour would expand its involvement in workplace health and safety education and promotion.
  • The Minister would also have oversight of the province’s Health and Safety Associations under the leadership of the chief prevention officer and could delegate that oversight to the chief prevention officer.
  • A new Prevention Council with representatives from the worker and employer communities, and health and safety experts, would provide valuable input into the direction the health and safety system and would be asked to endorse any significant changes to the system.
  • The Minister would have the authority to establish standards for health and safety training in order enhance this training and ensure workers are properly trained.
  • Workers, especially the most vulnerable workers, would have improved protections against reprisals for exercising their rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Consultation and further advice from stakeholders and the Interim Prevention Council will assist the Ministry in the months ahead, to ensure cost effective and thoughtful implementation of these major reforms.

Speaker, the Expert Panel heard from stakeholders that said they wanted to enhance coordination and alignment of prevention activities in our health and safety system.

We listened.

Conclusion

We have accepted the recommendations of the Expert Panel, and thank all of those who worked so hard on the Panel’s report.

And we are acting by bringing forward this proposed legislation.

Speaker, our government believes that by working together we can continue to foster workplaces that are healthy, safe, and harmonious, and by doing so also build a strong economy.

We believe our bill would strengthen and better align our health and safety efforts, to the benefit of all.

We believe we can and will save lives and prevent injury among Ontarians.

The people of this province, and those that depend on them, deserve no less.

Thank you.