With all the recent changes in health and safety, it’s a great time to reflect on some of the issues PSAC has been pushing forward. For some, this may be new information. For others, it will be a review or an inspiration to keep pushing forward to ensure our members return home safe and healthy.
Bullying and Harassment – Mental Health
The PSAC has been a leader in the area of mental health, including bullying and harassment in the workplace. In the Prairie Region, the focus of the last Regional Health & Safety Conference was mental health, promoting mental health well-being, as well as dealing with mental health issues.
The more recent National Health and Safety Conference also focused on mental health in the workplace, with guest speakers, workshops, and discussion groups all tackling issues involving mental health. Both conferences left delegates with information and inspiration to help better represent members. If you were not able to attend one of these conferences, check out the speakers’ notes and presentations.
Family Status Accommodation
For those members that work shift work and have families, struggling to have some sort of work/life balance can be a challenge all in itself. Scheduling child care or before-and-after school programs are often designed for the Monday to Friday, 9-5 worker in mind. The single mother working evenings, nights and weekends does not have the same options that others may have. This ruling in favour of PSAC is a great win for those affected. While this is a human rights issue, it also has a major impact on a member’s mental health. Personally, I have already used this ruling to have one member, in need of help, accommodated.
Right to Refuse
Sometimes, we have to fight to protect one of the principles of health and safety. The right to refuse dangerous work is one of the cornerstones firmly entrenched in almost all legislation, including the Canada Labour Code Part II. So, too, is the right to be free from retribution or discipline for exercising these rights. The PSAC recently won an argument against the employer for these issues. It serves as a good reminder that although we need to look forward and be progressive in some areas, we also need to be diligent in maintaining the rights we fought to have; no matter how entrenched they may seem.
Having a Voice Where it Matters
In Manitoba, PSAC representatives have had an opportunity to take part in a five-year review of The Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Act, making recommendations based on our experiences and previous challenges. Some of the recommendations include increased enforcement, support for prevention programs, and strengthening rights that currently exist.
The PSAC has also been part of the provincial review of the Worker’s Compensation Board of Manitoba. Covered in the Petrie Report, which addresses claim suppression, the PSAC had the opportunity to make suggestions on WCB claims in Manitoba. Claim suppression is when the employer discourages an employee from filing a WCB claim, or not reporting workplace injuries. This skews the percentage of claims that are used to calculate the WCB rate the employer pays, which is called the experience rate model. Not reporting injuries is illegal under the Act, but it is so weakly enforced, and fines are so low, employers continue to do this. On a recent visit to the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, I noticed a sign that advertised “five years without a lost time injury”. With all the heavy machinery, equipment, and moving parts, it’s hard to imagine that no one has been injured in five years. These are the challenges we continue to face.
This is only a small sample of the work the PSAC is doing to ensure a healthy and safe workplace. We will continue to be in the forefront of issues that matter, and we will continue to enact change.