Ontario’s changes to health & safety training will make workplaces less safe
The Ontario Ministry of Labour has announced changes to the Joint Health Safety Committee Certification Part 1 training that weaken Ontario's health and safety regime for workers. The government is giving businesses an additional option of having their employees take a self-paced online course, in addition to the in-person classroom training. Many adult learners require active participation, and merely providing them with information does not ensure that learning occurs.The concern here is that a great number of employers will not provide employees with the option to choose between the online or in-class training, and instead will make the online training their only option. Another major concern is the verification of the training participant.
Doug Ford’s Conservative government is trying to claim that online training will be more efficient and cost-effective than in-person, hands-on training because the latter can require participants to spend time away from family and constitutes a major cost to employers. The government also claims this change will save Ontario businesses an estimated $5 million. But these savings will come at the expense of workplace safety and will put workers' health at risk.
A joint health & safety committee (JHSC) is the cornerstone of a well-functioning workplace that utilizes an internal responsibility system. With 208 deaths and 57,368 accidents reported in Ontario workplaces in 2017, health and safety culture needs to be strengthened rather than weakened. Workplace JHSCs are democratic entities that are comprised of worker and employer representatives. They help identify and assess potential hazards at work, empower members to make recommendations that can reduce or eliminate health and safety risks, and are essential to fostering safe and healthy workplaces.
Reducing the training requirements for JHSC members sends a message that workplace health and safety is not a priority for Doug Ford and the Ontario Conservatives. Ontario workers deserve better than this, and UFCW Canada believes the recent changes to JHSC training requirements should be reversed.