The government is quietly engaged in expedited reviews to undermine both the occupational health and safety, and workers’ compensation systems
EDMONTON - This summer, in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, the UCP government is quietly coming after workplace health and safety rights and protections. This after they have just rammed through Bill 32, a law rolling back workers' pay and workplace rights.
“The government is quietly reviewing both the Occupational Health and Safety and the Workers’ Compensation systems as we speak", said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. “These are rushed reviews with a clear agenda; rolling back workers’ health and safety rights and protections in Alberta."
Both consultations are already under way, but the government is not widely advertising them, instead they are ‘selectively consulting’. All while providing only one month for these reviews to be completed.
“There is no disputing that Alberta needs effective legislation, policies and mechanisms that make work safer. Unfortunately, Alberta’s conservative governments have long been overly concerned with appearing business friendly, at the detriment to health and safety rights and protections for workers", said McGowan. “This time appears to be no different.”
Instead of meaningful consultation with stakeholders, the UCP government appears to see the Occupational Health and Safety Review as a chance to weaken worker involvement in workplace safety, to allow employers an out for health and safety to save money, to reduce reporting requirements for workplace incidents, and most concerning, to limit a worker’s right to refuse unsafe work.
“To even think of limiting or undermining a worker’s right to refuse unsafe work is offensive at the best of times", said McGowan. “To do so in midst of a global health pandemic is beyond reckless and immoral.”
The UCP government also appears to see the Workers Compensation Review as a chance to roll back the amount of money a worker can receive, allow employers to end health benefits for injured workers, to weaken presumptive coverage for workplace illness or injuries, and to dip into the workers’ accident fund to give money to employers.
“It goes without saying that completing a one-month consultation on both the Occupational Health and Safety and the Workers’ Compensation systems, in the middle of a global health pandemic, in the middle of summer, is not meant to provide for fair and meaningful consultations.” said McGowan.