Stephanie Malinsky is a huge supporter of human rights. Whether it is the right of individuals with intellectual disabilities to be included in the community or the right of workers, particularly in the social services sector, to work in a safe and healthy work environment, Malinsky champions it all.
For 21 years Malinsky has been a support worker for Community Living Toronto. Community Living Toronto is an organization that specializes in helping individuals with intellectual disabilities live meaningful, more accessible lives out in the community.
Working out of Dale Residence, a group home located in east end Toronto, Malinsky helps special needs adults with daily living skills such as cooking, laundry, personal hygiene, banking, recreational activities and general counseling. But equally as important to her are her duties as the worker co-chair and certified member of her workplace joint health and safety committee (JHSC), a position she has held off and on since 1987.
Malinsky takes pride in her joint committee. In fact, she was instrumental in its creation. A member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 2191, Malinsky was encouraged by the Local to take the Workers Health & Safety Centre’s (WHSC) Level I Health and Safety Program.
It was during this program Malinsky’s passion for health and safety was first kindled and where she discovered the little “green book” that drastically changed her workplace.
She learned according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act,
her employer was required by law to set up a JHSC and provide WHMIS training for all employees. When Malinsky returned to the workplace to inform her employer what she had learned, she was met with vehement opposition.
Undaunted by her employer’s response and believing the law was on her side, Malinsky called in the Ministry of Labour (MOL). The end result was orders by an MOL inspector forcing the employer to put in place a JHSC representing 80 multi-location sites. As worker co-chair of the joint committee, Malinsky sits on the executive board of Local 2191. She is also a WHSC-trained instructor and CUPE facilitator.
The joint committee under Malinsky’s leadership has been quite successful. Along with the employer they developed written policies and procedures. They recommended purchase of new mechanical lifts for immobile clients and were able to secure training and protection against infectious diseases. However Malinsky’s first love still remains facilitating.
“I continue to learn a great deal while I’m delivering programs. And everything I learn I am committed to share with others. Training is knowledge and knowledge is power. When the employer knows you know the law, they treat you a lot differently,” says Malinsky.
Malinsky also has the respect of her union. “Stephanie is a little ball of energy. Not only does she make an important contribution to her workplace, we are also very proud of the job she does as chair of our union’s Ontario Division Health and Safety Committee,” says Donna Wright, CUPE health and safety representative.