Workers Health & Safety Centre

Campaigns continue for fair and safe work

Campaigns continue for fair <em>and</em> safe work
Campaigns instrumental in driving Ontario’s recently proposed labour law amendments will continue, beginning with a Day of Action scheduled for tomorrow, June 20.

Organizers of the Day of Action are seeking volunteers to contact their Member of Provincial Parliament and take to social media to push for changes beyond those introduced earlier this month with Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017.

Creating decent work

Campaigns, including the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Make It Fair campaign seek justice for the growing ranks of Ontario workers trapped in precarious work. These campaigns coincide with release of the final report of the Ministry of Labour-appointed Changing Workplaces Review. Some two years in the making, the Review set out to examine how the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act may need to change to address the needs of today’s workplaces and workforce.

The Report describes the stark and changing reality of Ontario workplaces where among other things approximately one-third of Ontario’s workforce is estimated to be vulnerable workers in precarious work and where there is a profound lack of knowledge and understanding about basic workplace rights. In framing their 173 recommendations, the Report authors insist worker entitlements must include safe and healthy work.

Precarious workers at risk

A wide body of research links precarious work to hazardous work. For instance, reports from the Poverty & Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario (PEPSO) research group, find precarious employment has risen by almost 50 per cent in the last 20 years affecting workers across many sectors. Their research also finds: 
  • Nearly one in four said reporting a health and safety or other employment concern would threaten their employment.
  • Workers in precarious jobs are twice as likely to report poorer mental health, than those in secure jobs.  

The Institute for Work & Health (IWH) is among those making proactive contributions to this public policy debate. Recent IWH work to develop a health and safety vulnerability measure considers exposures to hazards and inadequate protection in at least one of three areas: OHS policies and procedures, awareness of hazards, rights and responsibilities, and empowerment. Workers deemed vulnerable by this measure can have a three to four times increased risk of injury and illness.

The “union safety effect”

Similarly, a considerable and growing body of research also demonstrates unionized workers benefit from safer work. The “union safety effect”, a short-hand phrase for the role unions play in improved occupational health and safety outcomes, has been validated in studies here in Canada and internationally.

Most recently, a 2015 Institute for Work & Health study confirmed a “union safety effect” in Ontario’s construction industry where unionized sites reported 23 per cent less lost-time claims than their non-unionized counterparts. Unionized workers were also 17 per cent less likely to experience muscle, tendon, and nerve injuries that affect mobility and almost 30 per cent less likely to suffer critical injuries.

Bill 148 has been sent to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs and will be subject to public hearings when the Legislature resumes sitting in September.

For our part, the Workers Health & Safety Centre offers a full range of health and safety training, including programs for joint health and safety committee members and worker representatives in small workplaces. Also, check out WHSC resources for workers and health and safety representatives.

To learn more:
Email: or
Call:    1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training services representative

Other related resources:
Make it Fair Bill 148 analysis 
Precarious employment impacts health of working women
Stressful work factors driving cardiovascular disease epidemic
Personal coping not the solution for deadly work-related stress, says new study
New Ontario study finds unionized construction sites are safer
Vulnerable workers resources--Institute for Work & Health