Workplace safety top priority for Ontario labour minister
Program rewarding safe employers to launch this month: McNaughton
By Marcel Vander Wier
Health & Safety
A safer province is the top priority of Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
“We will continue to raise awareness of workplace rights and responsibilities to improve workplace safety in every way we know how,” he told a room full of OHS professionals gathered at the Richmond Hill Country Club in Toronto, Nov. 15. “This is my top priority.”
“We know good health and safety practices also save businesses money, but most importantly, they save lives. I can’t think of a better win-win.”
The government’s vision for a safer Ontario includes working with Canadian registered safety professionals on a voluntary program that will reward safe employers. The program will be launched soon, said McNaughton.
“I want workers to know that I respect them — that I consider myself one of them,” he said. “Because when it comes down to it, we value the exact same things — the importance of hard work, cooperation and good-paying jobs, and the belief that we all have the right — young, old, white- or blue-collar — to come home safely after a hard day’s work.”
McNaughton was “shocked” to hear that 24 young workers died of workplace accidents between 2014 and 2018.
“As a father that makes me sad,” he said. “As minister, this statistic makes me very, very angry. One death at a workplace is one too many.”
A three-month safety blitz is currently underway in the province, focusing on musculoskeletal injuries and respiratory illness prevention.
“We conduct inspection blitzes every year to raise safety awareness and help prevent injuries and fatalities,” said McNaughton. “But there’s always more that we can do.”
The Safer Ontario event was hosted by Tickner and Associates, a Toronto-based health and safety compliance company.