Every Canadian should know how safe their workplace is. Now there’s a bill to help them do it.
MP Sheri Benson has introduced a private member’s bill that would require employers to record information about all accidents, occupational disease and other hazardous occurrences to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, says the NDP member’s website. The registry would be maintained by the minister and available to the public.
"This change will have a positive impact on workers – past, present and future – by allowing them access to pertinent information on the various hazards they could be exposed to at work,” said First District International Vice President William Daniels following the June bill introduction. “This is something every worker deserves to know.”
The bill, C-292, is intended to provide transparency and promote workplace safety. Benson says the inspiration came from a federal food plant inspector who contracted mesothelioma from contact with asbestos while on the job. Howard Willems, who passed away in 2012, was an inspector for 30 years and fought for a similar registry in his province of Saskatchewan, reported the CBC. Benson represents Saskatoon West in the southern part of the province.
“I’m standing on the shoulders of others who have done a lot of work,” Benson said.
The legislation is expected to have its second reading sometime in 2017, Benson said. If it passes second reading, experts may be invited to speak on the bill at the committee stage, and other legislators may comment and voice their support. Once the committee has completed its study, the bill will be reported back to the House for a third and final reading. Benson says it’s possible the bill could become law in 2018.
Thus far, there is no opposition, said First District Political Action and Media Strategist Matt Wayland.
There is no enforcement mechanism with the bill, nor does it call for a ban on anything, though Benson says she hopes that eventually there will be a ban on asbestos. It’s something Prime Minister Trudeau has expressed interest in as well, reported the CBC.
“This is a solid first step in a longer process of getting asbestos out of the workplace,” Benson said. “It’s something people have been asking for.”
The bill has the support of Canada’s Building Trades Unions.
"This is a long time coming and will create accountable partnerships in the workplace," said Bob Blakely, with Canada's Building Trades Unions, in a press release.
“Everyone deserves to know what they’re walking into,” Wayland said. “This bill will help our members come home safe and in good health at the end of the day.”