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Quebec Solidere calls for a ban on remote monitoring programs

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Maria Gill
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(Quebec) We should ban remote monitoring programs, these “ticking bombs” that allow employers to spy on their employees while working from home.

Patrice Bergeron
The Canadian Press

This is what Quebec Solidere (QS) advocates in occupational health and safety reform, Bill 59, is currently under study.

On Thursday afternoon, QS Labor spokesperson Alexander Leduc met with Minister Responsible for Reform, Jean Bouet, to suggest changes to the legislative text.

A QS member argued in an interview with The Canadian Press that we should take advantage of this reform to better oversee remote work which is much more pervasive.

Companies are already offering all kinds of computer tools to their employers to monitor their workers’ activity.

“Unfortunate” software

“These are pitiful programs, misconduct on the part of employee management, especially time bombs, that lead to psychological damage,” Mr. Leduc said.

“Being watched like this is not a healthy thing, it does not allow you to achieve your goals at work.”

Is this common? He replied, “Nobody brags about that. It is not well documented, but American companies have reported that there are many customers in Canada.”

The employer’s right to visit

Additionally, QS requires oversight of employer visitation rights at remote workplaces.

The business owner is responsible for the work environment, especially the safety of the building, to avoid injuries, but what about when the workplace is the private home? In theory, the law applies and the employer is responsible as well, but can it change the environment at home?

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British Columbia has already set the rules. For example, approval of inspection, notification, etc.

In Quebec, “We are in a completely gray area and neglect is not the most responsible position,” Mr. Leduc worries.

Work Tools

The QS deputy for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is also required to clarify the rules for supplying work tools.

It must be provided by the company, or be a lump sum negotiated, to take into account smaller firms, or employees who already have adequate or comfortable equipment at home.

Finally, QS recommends making an obligation on all companies to set up a remote work policy.

In the Parliamentary Committee, Minister Jean Bouet said it was better to recommend companies to adopt a policy than to force it.

At the moment, the word “remote work” does not appear anywhere in the drafting of Bill 59, which was denounced by Telétravail Québec in the parliamentary committee.

Then the minister said that the employer’s obligations regarding occupational health and safety apply regardless of where the work is performed.

«Peu importe le lieu du travail, dans un café, à la maison, ou à l’établissement, il ya une obligation (pour l’employeur) d’utiliser les techniques pour éliminer, contrôler et bien identifier les risques», avait – Confirms.

Bill 59, which updates the current 40-year law, has come under heavy criticism from several unions, doctors, experts and labor advocacy groups.

It aims to reduce compensation costs. 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. 251 workers have an accident every day.

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