Earlier this month, I had the honour of joining with 150 workers committed to safer and healthier workplaces at the 30th Annual MFL Health and Safety Conference
While I was there I learned something very surprising and disturbing. While disabling injury rates in provincially regulated workplaces are falling, they are actually rising in federally regulated workplaces. The gap is shockingly stark. Over the past 5 years, disabling injury rates in provincially regulated workplaces have seen an average decline of 25%, while federally regulated workplaces have seen a 5% increase over the same period.
This recent report by David Macdonald
shows very clearly that this depressing statistic is no accident. It is the direct result of two conscious decisions by the current Conservative government.
First, he shows that the federal government is scaling back enforcement of the rules meant to keep workers safe and healthy. The number of federal enforcement officers has been cut, significantly increasing the number of workers per officer.
Second, an announcement buried in the 2007 federal budget required the benefits of any new federal regulations over the private sector to be balanced against the cost to business. That’s right, the Harper government now requires regulators to balance saving workers’ lives and preventing injuries against potential profits for employers! Once again, we see the “war on red tape” for what it really is – a move “to redefine the problem of injured worked as a cost of doing business.”
These moves have been very bad news for the more than 1 million workers
in federally regulated workplaces.
Manitoba has shown how a government that cares about workers and their families can make workplaces safer and healthier. By doubling the number of health and safety enforcement officers and by quintupling the number of workplace inspections, Manitoba’s government has reduced the workplace injury rate by 40% over the past decade.
Jack Layton and the NDP have also shown a strong commitment to safer workplaces.
On May 2nd, let’s vote to make federally regulated workplaces safer and healthier so that workers can make it home safely to see their families when the working day is done.