Dismantling of Certification Training for Health and Safety Committees in Ontario

The announcement, made in January 2019, stated that the Ministry of Labour (MOL) was amending the Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) Training Standard to reduce the burden on employers and saving employers approximately 5 million dollars a year.  (Approximately 15,000 members are certified every year in Ontario.)

The Ministry of Labour’s role is to set, communicate and enforce workplace health and safety legislation and regulations, and develop, coordinate and implement strategies to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses! It's role is not to dismantle health and safety training that enhances worker safety.

Shame on the MOL!

I have always been proud to say that Ontario has had the best certification training for health and safety committees/representatives than any other province.  Now we are going to take a step backward.

Minister Laurie Scott states the changes mean 50,000 Ontario workplaces no longer need to send workers for a five-day classroom course. By cutting red tape, Minister Scott says she's providing flexibility by making online courses fully available to Ontario businesses, reducing the time needed to take the first part of the certification course.

Spending up to five days on part one of the certification was a major cost to Ontario employers. Minister Scott is reducing red tape for employers, but creating barriers for workers.

The changes include:

  • promoting flexibility by allowing training to take place solely online for the first part of the learning, in addition to classroom, blended and distance learning
  • simplifying the requirements by removing complicated rules and red tape
  • extending the time to complete the second part of training to within a year of completing the first part, providing more time for employers to schedule training

Requirement of the Law

Organizations with more than 20 employees are required to have a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). Without proper training, some committees may not perform their required duties as they should be. Whether it’s being uninformed about their responsibilities or not being allowed by their employer to take the initiative to promote a better working environment, an ineffective JHSC can contribute to an unsafe workplace.

Statistics and Beyond

Close to 1,000 Canadians die each year because of their jobs, according to official numbers from Canada's worker's compensation agencies. But a new study says that figure is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the true extent of work-related deaths across the country.

Non-reporting and Under-reported Fatalities

Depending on the province, between 70 and 98 per cent of the workforce is covered by a workers' compensation system. But that means there are more than two million workers in Canada whose deaths would escape official statistics.

Excluded occupations could include the self-employed, domestic helpers, banking employees and farmers, among others.

What these numbers don't show is just how many people are directly affected by these workplace tragedies. Each worker death impacts the loved ones, families, friends and coworkers they leave behind, changing all of their lives forever.

Why We Need to Bargain

Unifor members need to bargain strong health and safety language in their collective agreements. 

Unifor has lobbied hard for good health and safety laws to protect our members.  But using government laws and enforcement are not enough.  We need additional tools to help us in our fight with employers to make our workplaces safer. One of those tools is our collective agreement. 

We need to use our collective bargaining powers to ensure our members receive qualified certification training.

- Kelly Bondy, Unifor Education Department