Statement by the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour, in support of the Canadian workers


March 21, 2020     Gatineau, Québec              Employment and Social Development Canada

The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour, issued the following statement in support of the Canadian workers:

“Canada is facing an unprecedented situation with COVID-19. Canadians are responding and supporting one another through these challenging times. That is what Canadians do. It's our national spirit.

Some of Canada's workers are being asked to step up. Canadians working in trucking, the food supply chain, railways, ports, and airways, along with many other industries, are now needed more than ever before to ensure Canadians have access to food and other essential goods during this very difficult time.

As the Minister of Labour, I want to thank all workers on behalf of Canadians. As we fight COVID-19, your health and safety is top of mind for us just as it is for you. Our government believes that every Canadian has the right to a safe and healthy workplace.

Under our Labour Code, employers have the duty to protect the health and safety of their employees at work. They are required to update or create their own hazard prevention programs, including measures to ensure employees are not exposed to conditions that could be harmful to their health or safety while working. We know that exposure to COVID-19 is a new phenomenon. We also know we must take this matter very seriously. If there is a risk of exposure to COVID-19, employers have an obligation to identify, assess the risk, and implement proper controls through their hazard prevention programs. As well, they must provide the appropriate training.

Our Government also encourages employers to seek guidance from the appropriate authorities, including the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization, for information on any preventative measures that should be taken. A number of industry associations, like the International Air Transport Association, have also developed sector specific guidelines for dealing with COVID-19. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has made training available to assist employers and employees on hazard prevention requirements, and has published general guidelines for COVID-19.

We urge all employers during this critical time to go above and beyond standard health and safety measures to make sure that workers are safe in this extraordinary situation, and accommodate reasonable requests from employees. Many employers already have, and I thank them for their efforts.

If any employee has to take time off for their own health and safety or to support family members, the government emergency support measures will be made available. We thank all employees who continue to go to work in these critical sectors so Canadians can have access to food and other essential goods.

Our government has taken a number of unprecedented but necessary steps to support Canadian workers during this COVID-19 outbreak. We will continue to monitor the ongoing situation, and examine any and all options that could further help workers during this time. We will always have your backs.”

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For media enquiries, please contact:
Dustin Fitzpatrick
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Filomena Tassi, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Labour

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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