May 1st, 2020

McNaughton must address health and safety enforcement problems before reopening economy: NDP

213 workers have claimed work conditions were unsafe and Ministry of Labour has overruled every one

QUEEN’S PARK — The NDP is calling on the Ford Government’s Labour Minister to strengthen protections for workers to refuse unsafe work, especially while they consider the steps necessary to re-open the economy.

The Toronto Star has reported that 213 workers have exercised their legislated right to refuse unsafe work and demand an inspection from the Ministry of Labour. In every case, the Ministry of Labour has overruled their concerns, often without an on-site inspection of the workplace.

The NDP has joined workers in calling for clarity for how workplace inspections and investigations are happening in the absence of physical site inspections. It is all employers’ responsibility, in law, to provide safe workplaces, and the government’s role to enforce and investigate when they do not.

“No one should ever have to choose between keeping their job and coming home safe and healthy. People need to know the government will protect every worker’s right under Ontario law to refuse unsafe work, and the premier and minister must make sure that all workers, including those who are showing up to work in the health care, retail, construction and other essential services still in operation right now know it,” said Andrea Horwath, NDP Leader of the Opposition.

As of April 24, the WSIB had received 1,069 COVID-19 workplace exposure incident reports.