B.C.'s Occupational Health and Safety legislation welcomed by unions

The introduction of legislation in British Columbia to improve workplace health and safety and hold negligent employers accountable is welcomed by the province's unions, but they warn that there must be enforcement of the new laws.

Vancouver (17 Feb. 2015) — After years of pushing the British Columbia government to act, the BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) is pleased that the Minister of Labour has finally taken action on needed reforms to increase workplace safety and hold negligent employers accountable. The legislation was introduced February 10.

Increased enforcement essential

“Increased enforcement and prosecution of negligent employers is fundamental to improving worker safety and compliance with the law,” said Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour (BCFED).

“We have long been calling on the provincial government to put in place the needed legislation to ensure negligent employers are held accountable when a worker is killed or injured on the job."

Government needs to do more

“The reforms introduced today are an important step in the right direction, but there is more the government can do to give these reforms real teeth,” said Lanzinger.

In addition to some of the steps outlined in the Macatee Report, the BCFED has been asking government for a dedicated Crown Prosecutor, a Crown charge assessment policy specific to workplace death, and education for prosecutors, police services and WCB investigative officers about criminal negligence from a workplace health and safety perspective.

Real test of legislation to come

“The real test of any new legislation is enforcement,” said Lanzinger. “We know the devastating consequences when employers fail to protect their employees, and it is up to the government to enforce the laws and regulations put in place."

The B.C. Components of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) are the Health Sciences Association of BC (HSABC/NUPGE) and the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). Both unions are members of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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