PSAC Atlantic members met in Moncton, N.B. for the regional Health, Safety and Environment Conference from June 17 to 19. The theme of this conference was “Health, Safety and Environment: Our Future at Work”, and members had the opportunity to meet with fellow activists to discuss the important topics of workplace health and safety and our role in environmental sustainability.
The conference spanned three days and was packed with speakers from across Canada. After the opening from Elsipogtog First Nation Knowledge Keeper, Donna Augustine, members heard from Regional Executive Vice-President Colleen Coffey. Then they had the opportunity to hear from a panel on labour’s leadership role toward climate justice; the panel members were PSAC National Health and Safety Officer Andrea Peart and Catherine Abreu from Destination Zero. The first evening finished with an address from PSAC National President Chris Aylward, followed by a fun meet and greet reception.
Saturday was full of discussion and education. Denis St-Jean, a PSAC National Health and Safety Officer, talked to everyone about current and future trends in occupational health and safety. Then members had the chance to learn about disability insurance from Martin Tious, a Disability Insurance Officer. In the afternoon the conference heard from Dr. Adriana Berlingieri about domestic violence. The topic was when home and work aren’t safe, and many members commented on the importance of this discussion and how much they learned.
PSAC’s Joint Learning Program sent Dominic Lavoie to talk to the conference about their project on occupational health and safety (OHS) committees. This presentation fostered lots of discussion about members’ local OHS committees. The conference ended on Sunday, after hearing from Dr. Ingrid Waldron about environmental racism. This topic touched close to home for many members, as the focus of Dr. Waldron’s work has been in the Maritimes.
There was wonderful feedback from the members about the conference, everyone learned a lot about workplace health and safety and how the environment ties into this important topic. Throughout the conference members heard environmental poems, presented by PSAC Atlantic regional council’s health and safety committee members and the regional environment committee members. It was a good opportunity to hear from the members involved in these committees.
The PSAC remains committed to providing education on health, safety, and the environment for all members. If you’d like to learn more about what the PSAC is doing, and how you can help, please go to https://psacunion.ca/health-and-safety-0 for more information. While it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a healthy and safe workplace, union activists must continue to ensure their employer fulfills their health and safety obligations in legislation and our collective agreements. Members from this conference have the tools necessary to make sure that all workers are safe at work, and that we are also working towards a more sustainable work environment for our future.