The government has allotted just five hours in less than two days for public hearings on its controversial omnibus budget bill, Bill 70.
Among other things the controversy arises from the inclusion in the bill of proposed amendments to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act
(OHSA) – amendments that have nothing to do with the provincial budget or public finances and everything to do with privatizing health and safety standard-setting and greater employer self-regulation of workplace health and safety
To make a request to appear before committee
Hearings of the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee are scheduled Thursday, December 1, 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Witnesses will be scheduled on a first-come-first-served basis.
To make a request to appear before the committee contact immediately the committee clerk, Eric Rennie: firstname.lastname@example.org or 416‑325-3506
Those who cannot appear in person are encouraged to send written submissions
to the clerk.
The deadline for submitting amendments to Bill 70 is Friday, December 2, 12:00 pm.
Bill 70 threats to worker health and safety
Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Finance Minister first introduced Bill 70, Building Ontario Up for Everyone Act (Budget Measures)
November 16, 2016. Buried in the bill are proposals which:
Of particular concern to the Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) is the government proposal to privatize health and safety training standards.
Expand Chief Prevention Officer (CPO) powers to accredit and recognize employer health and safety management programs;
Allow government to outsource or privatize the process for approving health and safety training courses and training providers, in addition to employer accreditation;
Open the door to employer self-reported audits by internal auditors, audits potentially rooted in behaviour-based safety (BBS) approaches, instead of ones based on hazard control/elimination;
Shield accredited employers from proactive enforcement by health and safety inspectors and possibly exempt employers from other “routine burdens”.
“External groups are not answerable to the public in the same way governments are. Moreover, industry-dominated groups are not likely to set truly protective standards,” observes Dave Killham, Executive Director, WHSC.
“In a race to the bottom where information is offered, instead of real training that ensures learning, workers and WHSC will suffer. Without proper training workers will be left vulnerable to workplace hazards.
WHSC will be left vulnerable too. WHSC sustainability is ensured with quality, mandatory training standards. Without them, we will find it difficult to compete, because we refuse to leave workers unprotected by minimalist approaches to training,” adds Killham.
Calls to drop OHSA changes from Bill 70
In response, opposition NDP MPP John Vanthof, has tabled a motion to remove OHSA amendments from the budget bill
, as well as proposed changes to the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act
. To date, the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and Ontario Public Services Employees (OPSEU) have also called publicly for the removal of the OHSA proposals from the bill.
To learn more: