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February 24, 2021

SENT VIA EMAIL: minister.MLTSD@ontario.ca

Hon. Monte McNaughton
Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
14th Floor
400 University Avenue
Toronto, ON M7A 1T7

Dear Minister McNaughton,

Act on Health and Safety Expert Panel Training Recommendations Now

December 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of the 46 health and safety recommendations developed by the Expert Panel following a workplace tragedy in 2009. Four workers died and one was permanently injured in Toronto when their suspended work platform broke in half and collapsed, plunging the men 13 stories to the ground on Christmas Eve. To this day, some of these recommendations regarding health and safety training are incomplete.

We are writing to urge the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development (MLTSD) to immediately implement Recommendations 2, 13, 16, 17, and to clarify how others, such as 39,  40, and 41 (regarding curriculum) were addressed.

  • Recommendation 2 said that it should create, implement, and audit training standards that would apply to training required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)  and its Regulations. Let’s start by fixing WHMIS which has been badly degraded.
  • Recommendation 13 states that health and safety representatives should be provided with mandatory training. A training standard and accompanying legislation were developed in 2011, but the legislation was never called into force. Health and safety representatives deserve support to fulfil their important role in the workplace.
  • Recommendation 17 promises to provide fall protection training to all workers (outside of construction) who work at heights. Makes sense; falling from heights is dangerous wherever it occurs. The recommendation also intended to identify and address other high hazard training needs. Neither item was completed.
  • Recommendation 16 calls for mandatory entry-level training in construction. That this  has not been acted upon is bewildering and frankly, irresponsible.
  • Recommendations 39, 40, and 41 mean to insert and maintain health and safety content and material into curriculum in schools, advanced learning, and apprenticeships. We request confirmation and specifics about how these have been implemented.

We echo the Ontario Federation of Labour’s (OFL) call for the MLTSD to establish and facilitate  a joint group of unions and employers. Members should be selected by their respective constituency bodies (e.g. the OFL, Building Trades, and employer groups). Members shall have  experience in occupational health and safety. The scope of inquiry and process would be established by the joint consultative group.

The group would have the mandate to recommend new training standards for worker health and safety representatives, entry-level construction, working at heights and WHMIS. Further, this group should identify a priority list of other worker training that requires a training standard.

We urgently request that you agree to the OFL’s request for a meeting with you so that the OFL and its affiliates can work with you to establish concrete next steps and an aggressive timeline for implementation of the Expert Panel’s outstanding training recommendations.

As we mourn for the dead on the National Day of Mourning April 28, 2021, we would like to be able to announce that this committee is hard at work developing training standards that could save workers’ lives in Ontario. Fighting for the living in 2021 means ensuring that workers get the training standards they were promised after that horrible tragedy now 11 years ago.

Let’s act now. We await your reply.

Sincerely,

PATTY COATES
President


Signed on behalf of the following organizations that endorse this call, and the recommendations outlined herein.

Marty Warren, United Steelworkers

Alex Silas, PSAC-NCR

Barry Fowlie, Workers United Canada Council

Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario

Mike Mahon, Ontario Sheet Metal Workers’ & Roofers’ Conference

Liz Stuart, Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA)

Scott Travers, The Society of United Professionals

Stan Pickthall, IAMAW

Harvey Bischof, OSSTF/FEESO

Vicki McKenna, RN, Ontario Nurses’ Association

Sam Hammond, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Wayne Hanley, UFCW Local 1006A

Shawn Haggerty, UFCW Local 175

Patti Dalton, Michele McLeave-Kennedy, Tiffany Balducci, on behalf of Ontario’s Labour Councils

COPE 343

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