Report Of The Altantic Council Health, Safety And Environment Committee, February 2013

Present:                        Regrets:
Brother John Ivany                    Brother Jim Hondas
Sister Sue Anne Sullivan                
Sister Anne Fagan Wood
Brother Jody LaPierre
Brother Chris Di Liberatore
Sister Nancy MacLean, Staff Advisor

1.  Regulatory Review of NL Workplace Compensation Act
As presented in the last report, the Provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have started the process to review the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act (WHSCC) The submission will address the top-up of benefits, violence in the workplace and psychological health as our priorities.  The PSAC Atlantic Region will make the presentation on April 2, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.  The Committee recommends that Brother Bill Walsh present on behalf of the PSAC and if Br. Walsh is still acting that the presentation be made by Sister Sue Anne Sullivan. The Committee also recommends that the PSAC Atlantic Representative – Health & Safety be present to provide technical support.

2.  Government Employee’s Compensation Act (GECA) Review
The last time the Government Employee’s Compensation Act (GECA) was reviewed was in 1959.  The Government of Canada – HRSDC Labour – is currently conducting a review.  The PSAC, CUPW, and PIPSC have jointly produced a submission document outlining a number of legislative amendments.  The document was distributed to the Atlantic H&S networks and the Locals as to obtain feedback.  The deadline for feedback was January 25, 2013.

3.  National Standard on Psychological Health in the Workplace
The new National Standard on Psychological Health in the Workplace was released in January.  This is a voluntary Standard.  A copy of the Standard was circulated to Locals and networks and has been posted on the PSAC Atlantic web page.  The Standards Association Group is currently hosting webinars to education workers, Unions and Employers on the benefit of adopting the Standard in the workplace.  The Atlantic Council Health & Safety Committee are asking that all Locals place this as an agenda item on their respective Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee meetings and as well on their Union/Management Consultation Committee meetings.  Those Union members who sit on Policy Committees should also be addressing the benefit and use of this National Standard.

4.  Mental Health Education
Mental Health training has been placed on all the spring education schedules in the Atlantic Region.  PSAC members are encouraged to attend.  In addition, Components such as Union of Taxation Employees have been holding regional Health & Safety Conferences with a focus on Mental Health in the Workplace.  Mental Health continues to be a priority for the Union.  

5.  Advance Duty to Accommodate Training
Brother Chris De Liberatore participated in the Advance Duty to Accommodate Training held November 16 – 18, 2012.  The training was very valuable and informative.  There was an overwhelming response from the membership to attend the training. The Health & Safety Committee recommends that the training be placed on the weekend training schedule in each province of the Atlantic Region.  It is anticipated that the training will also be offered at the Atlantic Union School.  

There was a recent Federal Court ruling that dealt with Duty to Accommodate on the prohibited ground of family status.  The ruling indicated that employers must deal with all accommodation requests related to the prohibited grounds of discrimination as outlined in the Canadian Human Rights legislation.  A victory for Labour!  The ruling was distributed via email to the Health & Safety networks and to all Locals.

6. Threads of Life – PSAC Contribution
Threads of Life is a National Canadian charity providing support programs and services to families affected by a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease.   The Health & Safety Committee recommends that a sponsorship of $1000.  The sponsorship must include a commitment to have the PSAC Atlantic logo on all signage at the Walks in Atlantic Canada.  In Addition, the Atlantic logo should be posted on their National website.  

The Committee would also like to strongly encourage and challenge all Locals in the Atlantic Region to participate in Walks in their respective areas. To date, the following Walks have been scheduled:  Halifax (May 5), Windsor (May 5), Miramichi (May 5), Charlottetown (May 4), St. John’s, (May 5) and Cornerbrook (May 5).  Please continue to view the Steps for Life website to obtain information on other scheduled Walks.  

4.  PSAC National and Regional Health & Safety Conferences
The National H&S Conference is scheduled for April 11 – 14, 2013 in Montreal, Quebec. The next Regional H&S Conference is scheduled for November 1- 3, 2013 in Halifax.  The overall theme of the Regional Conference will focus on mental health in the workplace.  The Atlantic Regional Conference budget allocation is $37,960.  Approximately $20,000 remains from the last cycle and the Region receives $30,000 for Regional Activities for the 3-year cycle of 2013 – 2015.  The Committee recommends that $15,000 of the $30,000 Regional Activities budget be transferred to assist with the Regional Health & Safety Conference.  Therefore, the Conference budget will be $72,960.  This will be a subsidized conference and it was decided that subsidies would be offered in the areas of Accommodation, Ground and Air Transportation.  The Committee made recommendations on the amounts of the subsidies.   Details regarding the subsidy provisions will be provided in the application form that will be sent out on May 1st.  

Currently, the tentative agenda will include a presentation from the Canadian Mental Health Association, workshops on Harassment/Bullying and Mental Health.  It was recommended that Brother Bob Kingston, National President – AGR Component be asked to speak on the new National Standard on Psychological Health and that participants be provided with an opportunity to strategize on how best to utilized the Standard in their workplaces.  Additional details will be provided as the planning for the conference moves forward.

5.  Council Committee 3-Year Mandate and Plan
The revised 3-Year Plan has been updated and is currently being sent for translation.  The new, revised document will be distributed and posted on the Atlantic website.

This report is respectfully submitted on behalf of the Committee.

Chris Di Liberatore
Council Director