Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Occupational Health and Safety | A setback for women denounces the regrouping

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Maria Gill
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(Quebec) Even with its new amendments, the occupational health and safety reform undertaken by the Legault government constitutes a “historic setback” for women.

Patrice Bergeron
The Canadian Press

This is supported by a group of signatories to an open letter obtained by The Canadian Press.

These unions, societies, researchers, lawyers, professors, and doctors – they are around 60 – summon Minister of Labor Jean Bouet, who is leading this reform, for Bill 59. He hinted on Monday that he would introduce further amendments, but he reiterates that reforming it “is based on consensus.”

Photo by Graham Higgs, Archived by the Canadian Press

Minister of Labor Jean Bouet

This open letter adds to the many criticisms leveled against the Avenir Quebec coalition on the issue of the status of women: the government is already accused of not paying enough attention to the plight of women at present, in the context of the recent seven femicide murders.

Discriminatory effects

The group of signatories claims that “in addition to undermining effective prevention, the proposed amendments still do not meet all workers’ needs and continue to perpetuate discriminatory impacts against women, ”we can read.

Among other things, the provisions relating to the minimum number of hours allocated to prevention, as well as the rules governing the work of occupational health and safety committees have been canceled.

However, 82.5% of women working in private firms are nonunions and thus do not have a fair balance of power with the employer to agree on appropriate rules, the signatories argue.

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“Without guaranteeing sufficient time, one might ask, how will workers’ representatives be able to identify and prevent risks, including psychosocial risks, to which women are most exposed?” We explain.

In addition, the signatories regret that the prevention program still does not include a redeployment plan for pregnant workers.

They also stressed that “nothing is planned to protect agency workers as well as domestic workers, who are still partially excluded from the automatic coverage of the law regarding industrial accidents and occupational diseases,” as we read.

They concluded that “in the face of the possibility of a historic setback in matters of women’s right to work, it is urgent for the minister to truly hear the voice of all workers and to review his draft law comprehensively.”

Other modifications

For his part, Mr. Boullet suggested, on the sidelines of a press conference held this morning, Monday, “There may be other amendments.”

He said, however, that “the majority of this law is based on consensus” between employers and unions.

It confirms that fixing it in the current situation is indeed an improvement of the status quo that has lasted for 40 years.

Areas with a female majority, such as education, social services, trade and health, that are not subject to prevention or participation mechanisms, would be if the bill was adopted.

Among the signatories to the Open Letter, we find practically all the major unions, the Confederation of Quebec Workers (FTQ), the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), the Professional Confederation of Health of Quebec (FIQ), the Autonomous Confederation. For education (FAE), the Public and Semi-Public Jobs Guild of Quebec (SFPQ), the Professional Guild of Quebec (SPGQ), as well as the Association of Progressive Jurists, etc.

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Minister Jean Bouet had already refused to submit the bill to a “gender analysis” before its adoption.

It is a subtle type of analysis recognized in public administration, which allows consideration of gender differences in planning and providing care and services.

Ironically, in its latest budget released on Thursday, the government decided to encourage the use of this type of analysis financially.

Bill 59 aims to reform the existing system to reduce costs borne by employers by 100%.

The National Center for Economic and Social Sciences (CNESST) paid benefits totaling 2.22 billion in 2018. Then it accepted 103,406 occupational injuries and recorded 226 deaths. Every day 251 workers have an accident.

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