Workers’ health and safety at the heart of discussions between federal, provincial and territorial labour ministers
January 30, 2019 St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador Employment and Social Development Canada
Federal, provincial and territorial labour ministers met today in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, to discuss important workplace issues, including occupational health and safety harmonization, harassment and violence, mental health and wage gaps.
The meeting was co-chaired by the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour, the Honourable Bernard Davis.
Collaboration was at the heart of the discussions. All governments recognized that working together will be especially important to implement harmonized occupational health and safety requirements nationwide, share information about preventing workplace harassment and violence, and explore different approaches to reduce wage gaps. Ministers also talked about progress on labour provisions in trade agreements and on the Federal–Provincial/Territorial Strategy on Canada and the International Labour Organization.
During the meeting, the principle of the National Occupational Health and Safety Reconciliation Agreement that aims to reduce or eliminate trade barriers within Canada was endorsed. Ministers agreed to reconcile important occupational health and safety standards for first-aid kits, head protection, eye and face protection, hearing protection, foot protection and personal flotation devices and life jackets. This agreement will simplify regulatory requirements for organizations, allowing them to work more seamlessly across multiple jurisdictions without compromising health and safety protections for workers.
Participants also examined various measures aimed at addressing inequitable pay practices in order to help reduce wage gaps, such as the recently passed federal proactive pay equity legislation and Quebec’s Pay Equity Act. Ministers believe that increasing women’s participation in the labour force and promoting equality will help boost economic growth. World Vision Canada and SHARE delivered a presentation on Canadian business linkages regarding forced and child labour in global supply chain and transparency considerations. Ministers also discussed engagement with Indigenous peoples.
Ministers committed to continue to work together and strong federal, provincial and territorial collaboration to create good‑quality jobs for Canadians and protect workers.
“Today’s support for harmonized interprovincial occupational health and safety requirements is great news for workers and employers across Canada. Workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace while employers benefit from the same standards to protect them across the country. We will continue to collaborate with provincial and territorial colleagues to deliver change that works for everyone.”
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
“Collaboration and cooperation are key to ensuring labour legislation is relevant and responsive to the needs of Canadians in workplaces across the country. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is proud to host this meeting and work closely with our federal, provincial and territorial colleagues with support from the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation.”
– The Honourable Bernard Davis, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour
The meeting of labour ministers provides a key forum for the discussion of labour policy and related issues. It enables ministers to explore opportunities for cooperation on joint projects and initiatives.
In July 2015, the Council of the Federation met and discussed internal trade and confirmed their commitment to working in areas of their own jurisdiction, such as occupational health and safety, to reduce technical barriers to trade. Following this commitment, at the federal, provincial and territorial meeting held in the National Capital Region in January 2018, the Ministers endorsed an Agreement-in-Principle document that clarified key principles and considerations associated with occupational health and safety harmonization. The National Occupational Health and Safety Reconciliation Agreement is being signed for the first time in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for labour meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual concern that they can work together to address. Throughout the year, their work is supported by the Canadian Association of Administrators of Labour Legislation (CAALL). Established in 1938, CAALL is an association of federal, provincial and territorial departments of labour that provides a continuous forum for senior officials to develop strong and cooperative working relationships.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
Advanced Education, Skills and Labour for Newfoundland and Labrador
Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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