QUEBEC – The reform of occupational health and safety standards led by the Legault government will have sexist effects, unions conclude.
Even the directors of public health in Quebec are worried about the proposed new rules.
“It is a real shame for women workers, especially in CHSLDs”, after what they experienced because of the pandemic, to impose new rules that will protect them less, launched the president of the Confederation of national unions (CSN), Jacques Létourneau, Thursday afternoon in parliamentary committee.
Bill 59 will penalize women, believe the CSN and the Centrale des unions du Québec (CSQ). This is a great “disappointment” in the context of the current pandemic where health union members are at the front, the CSQ said.
If the bill is adopted, several predominantly female employment sectors will no longer be subject to current prevention mechanisms. 40 years old, the current law provides for four main prevention mechanisms: a health and safety committee, a health program specific to the establishment, a prevention program and a prevention representative.
According to the bill, employers would be divided according to their size and between low, moderate and high risk levels, with prevention mechanisms tailored to each.
“It disadvantages our sectors, education, health, higher education, because our groups, mostly women, would find themselves in levels of risk classified as ‘low'”, lamented the president of the CSQ, Sonia Éthier, Thursday morning in committee parliamentary.
By virtue of the possible new classification, 60% of the sectors currently considered a priority _ which are entitled to the four current prevention mechanisms _ would henceforth be classified in the “low” or “moderate” risk categories, concludes the CSN.
“I have a problem with that,” said Létourneau. You have to have been an educator in a youth center, you have to be a beneficiary and work with heavy patients to understand that it is not true that it is not at risk. ”
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Thus, workers in hospitals will be judged to be at low risk of a work-related accident, even though there is a significant number of injuries in these places. The CSQ expected better in the current context.
“Of course, there is a disappointment with what has been going on for 10 months, with our members who are at the front,” added Ms. Éthier.
The directors of public health also questioned the new classification of employers according to risk, since it would be based on the number of compensations and the cases reported. However, we should rather rely on scientific studies, according to them, because not all cases are reported.
“We are building an important part of our system to improve the well-being of our population, we must not be based on compensation costs, we must be based on what makes people sick”, he said. says Dr Yv Bonnier-Viger, director of public health for the Gaspé.
“We must not forget that someone must pay for the burden, if it is not the insurance fund (of the CNESST), it will be society,” said his colleague, Dr Geoffroy Denis.
Bill 59 aims to reduce compensation costs. According to CNESST data, psychological injuries have increased by 67% over the past 10 years. These are the companies that contribute to pay the costs of the CNESST.
In parliamentary committee Thursday morning, the organization Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec (MEQ) called for reducing bureaucracy and controlling costs.
“Nothing justifies a Quebec manufacturer paying more for a plan than an Ontario manufacturer,” said MEQ president Véronique Proulx.
The CNESST paid benefits totaling $ 2.22 billion in 2018. It then accepted 103,406 occupational injuries and recorded 226 deaths. Every day, 251 workers suffer an accident.
Patrice Bergeron, The Canadian Press