The Health, Safety & Environment Committee of the PSAC Atlantic Council consists of six (6) Council members and includes: Brian Oldford, Jody Lapierre, Anne Fagan-Wood, Bill Walsh, Jim Hondus and Chris Delibratore. Sister Nancy MacLean, Regional Representative, is the Staff Advisor. This is the second meeting of the Committee. The committee met via conference call on February 15 to discuss the Worksafe New Brunswick Stakeholders Consultation on the topic of whether or not the province should pursue a legislative amendment to allow for a system of demerits as a tool to enforce employers’ compliance with the Occupational Health ans Safety (OHS) Act. The committee reviewed the background document and provided written submission. The Committee stressed that awareness and prevention are the best ways to eliminate and reduce accidents and injuries in the workplace. The primary focus for any employer should be on prevention. This includes putting the necessary resources into a good hazard prevention program. However, the Committee felt that any tools that would force an employer to be more compliant with the law would be a good thing. A copy of the Committee’s response can be obtained by contacting any member of the Council Committee.
The Committee reviewed their role and responsibilities. Some of the roles are outlined in the Atlantic Council by-laws while other direction is provided in the Committee’s Mandate and Plan. The Committee has been guided by a mandate and plan that was developed by previous Council Committees. The last 3-year mandate and plan came into effect on January 1, 2010. As outlined in the document, the Committee recognizes that this is a living document and one to be reviewed at each Council Committee meeting. The Committee members will review the document and provide feedback via e-mail. Members of the Atlantic Region are also encouraged to review the document for feedback. A copy of the document can be obtained on the PSAC Atlantic website. This Committee is commited to fullfilling its obligation and will work to promote Health and Safety in the Atlantic Region.
The PSAC has developed new Health and Safety materials that will be utilized at PSAC education courses and are available to Workplace Local Stewards and Representatives. The Health and Safety Toolkit has been revised and copies can be obtained by contacting Sister Nancy MacLean. In addition, The PSAC recently developed several tools on the topic of Mental Health. The resources can be found on the PSAC website. Please search for “Mental Health – Why It Matters”. A workshop on “Bullying and Representing Members with Mental Health” will be offered in Halifax on March 3 – 4, 2012. An advance course on Duty to Accommodate will be offered at the Atlantic Union School scheduled for April 29 – May 3, 2012 in Antigonish, NS.
The Provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have started the process to review the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act (WHSCC). This regulatory review takes place every five years and the government just annouced their Statutory Review Committee consisting of three members. The PSAC has been waiting for this review to commence as it was identified recently by PSAC members that NL is the only province in Canada that does not allow for the top-up of benefits to injured workers on compensable leave and earnings. In Newfoundland and Labrador top-up of benefits is against the law. This old legislative regime has placed PSAC members with great financial burdens and some have been hit with heavy overpayment bills from Workers’ Compensation. The Review Committee was appointed in January and the first part of the review process will be for the Committee to review the legislation and to recommend amendments as to modernize the act. The second part will be for the Committee to hold public stakeholder consultation meetings. It is anticipated that those consultation meetings will commence in April or May of 2012. The PSAC Atlantic Region will be preparing a submission to the Review Committee. It is impartive that the legislation be amended as it is archaic and has created substantial barriers to NL workers who wish to file Workers’ Compensation claims when injured at work. In addition, It was noted that the the Province of New Brunswick does not allow for the top-up of benefits for injured workers on compensation.
Steps for Life Walks are the primary fundraising event for Threads of Life,a national Canadian charity providing support programs and services to families affected by a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease. Walks are held each year across Canada in early May. The Atlantic Council have been a sponsor for the pass few years. The sponsorship of $1000 will promoted the PSAC Atlantic by having our name listed on the website as a sponsor; our PSAC Atlantic logo will be posted on the National website for Threads of Life and our logo will be printed on all signage at all Atlantic Region Walks. It is recommended that the PSAC Atlantic Region again donate $1000 to Threads of Life.
Brother Brian Oldford was elected as the Chairperson of the Atlantic Council Health, Safety and Environment Committee.
This report is respectfully submitted on behalf of the Committee.