Right of Workers to Determine Health and Safety Conditions!

Opposition to Quebec Bill Dismantling Occupational Health and Safety Regime

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.

Bill 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. 

The 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 the changes.

The 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.

(Photos: UTTAM)

This article was published in

 April 7, 2021 - No. 25

Article Link:


Website:  www.cpcml.ca   Email:  editor@cpcml.ca