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Gov't cuts health and safety inspections threatening Canadians on the job

Press release by Canadian Labor Congress, 17 November 1995


OTTAWA, Nov. 17 /CNW/ - "Disabling injuries on the job are up 21 per cent. Occupational injuries cost the economy $10.4 billion per year. So what does the government do? Fire 60 HRDC employees, mostly in the health and safety inspection area, and bring in corporate self-regulation,'' says CLC Secretary-Treasurer Dick Martin.

"Over one-million workers are injured on the job every year, and injuries in the federal jurisdiction are on the rise. Yet, this government has ignored the advice of its own labour and business advisory body and is now bringing in self-regulation.

"After consultation and deliberation, the Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliated unions have notified the Minister of Labour that we are immediately suspending our participation in the Human Resource Development Canada (HRDC) Labour Program's Legislative Review Committee.

"This committee comprised of business, labour and government representatives operated, by and large, by consensus. It managed to agree approximately 95 per cent of the time on Labour Code issues.

"Now the government has reneged on its commitment to abide by this process in order to bring in its own agenda of self-regulation and inspection cutbacks.

"Ironically, HRDC's own study (April 1995) concluded that there is a strong relationship between injuries and independent enforcement: ``When enforcement activities were up, (injury) rates were down...''

"It appears that there is no longer any commitment by this government to maintain and protect the health and safety of workers in the federal jurisdiction. But I hope that the government will reconsider its decision and renew the process of regulatory development by consensus and strong enforcement.

"Canadian workers' health and safety is at stake. It was so long ago that the Westray mine disaster in Nova Scotia killed 26 workers due to weak standards and lax enforcement of the law. The same could happen again,'' concluded Martin.

For further information:
Dick Martin, Secretary-Treasurer,
613-521-3400, ext. 238

Dave Bennett, Dir. Health & Safety Dept., ext. 418

Tom O'Brien, Communications, ext. 425