Opposition continues to be expressed to Quebec Bill 59, An Act to modernize the occupational health and safety regime.
Workers' organizations from different sectors of the economy are
speaking out to oppose both the content of the legislation and the
manner in which it is being enacted.
59 was devised by a few cabinet ministers who met for months with a
handful of people behind closed doors. The working conditions,
security, lives and jobs of those affected by the changes are not the
same as those who are dictating the changes which are to be made. As a
matter of democratic principle that is not right. The government
tabled the bill in October 2020, then held a few days of perfunctory
hearings at the end of January 2021. The aim of these perfunctory
hearings was to say that those concerned had been given a chance to
give their input. The Labour Minister spoke about reaching a consensus
of "stakeholders." His conception of who are the "stakeholders"
fulfills the definition of the word fraud.
bill has more than 300 articles. On March 10, the Minister tabled over
100 amendments. The bill is now being studied, clause by clause, by the
Parliamentary Committee on Labour and the Economy, made up of
representatives of parties with seats in the National Assembly. The
committee will vote on the bill as amended. Once this process is over,
it will go back to the National Assembly for adoption.
The government claims that its prior consultation with hand-picked
individuals is a modernized process despite the fact that injured
workers and organizations concerned with health and safety do not drive
bill reduces or eliminates access to treatments for injuries and
illness, medical assistance, rehabilitation and compensation, all in
the name of "saving money" for those who buy workers' capacity to work,
the most powerful of which are the global private interests which form
cartels and coalitions to get legislation passed which favours them.
The bill furthermore concentrates all decision-making over prevention
programs, health programs, hours allotted for the work of prevention
representatives, organizing of the health and safety committees and so
on, in the hands of the employers, eliminating the legal space that
previously existed for the workers' organizations and representatives
to have some input.
Workers rightfully consider this legislation a major abuse of power
that must not pass. Workers must have a decisive say in the
determination of the health and safety conditions under which they
work. Workers' Forum supports the demands of Quebec workers that this bill should be scrapped and that the health and safety regime must
be based on workers' demands and rights.
This article was published in
April 7, 2021 - No. 25