Occupational health and safety: Unions and Quebec bosses disagree

Occupational health and safety: Unions and Quebec bosses disagree

Discussions have been ongoing for several months, with no significant progress. In hopes of a resolution, CNESST even named a facilitator on the file last month.

Who will train the health and safety representatives?

The new law requires the appointment of a full-time health and safety representative (RSS) at sites with more than 100 workers or where costs exceed $12 million. For sites with between 10 and 99 employees, a part-time RSS will be required.

But CNESST has not yet established who will be responsible for their training, which will become mandatory in 2024.

Unions are voluntary. From the moment we appoint the health and safety representatives, I believe we should train these workers who will be on the construction sitessays Simon Lévesque, health and safety manager at FTQ-Construction.

For us it’s child’s play, we should give training. »

A quote from Simon Lévesque, health and safety manager at FTQ-Construction
Simone Levesque.

Simon Lévesque, health and safety manager at FTQ-Construction

Photo: Radio Canada

The management party sees this proposal as union corporatism and calls for training to be provided by independent and impartial bodies.

A distinction must be made between employment relations and occupational health and safety. Currently, we mix the twodeplores Guillaume Houle, spokesman for the Association de la construction du Québec.

The union reacts. Representatives are not present to deal with employment relationships or labor disputes. I’m there, full time, doing prevention work on construction sites, adds Mr. Lévesque. He recalls that in 2021 71 people died after working on a construction site.

The role of the CNESST

The Association de la construction au Québec deplores the inaction of the CNESST. janvier”,”text”:”La CNESST ne travaille pas avec nous pour faire en sorte que toutes les dispositions soient mises en place et que les entrepreneurs aient la tête tranquille le 1erjanvier”}}”>CNESST is not working with us to ensure all arrangements are in place and business owners are calm on 1 Januarysays Guillaume Houle.

It could be catastrophic on January 1, 2023 if we don’t clear up these questions quickly. »

A quote from Guillaume Houle, spokesman for the Association de la construction du Québec
Guillaume Houle.

Guillaume Houle, spokesman for the Association de la construction du Québec

Photo: Radio Canada

For its part, CNESST says it listens to the concerns raised by some employers’ groups and that discussions continue to reach a satisfactory solution.

Minister Jean Boulet, who worked on this reform, is not worried about the state of the negotiations. Whenever new ways of doing things come into effect, discussions are sure to arise. […] but I am convinced that the implementation will be done in the most respectful way of the objective that we had when we changed the regimehe said.

A postponement is out of the question, according to Minister Boulet

Éric Côté, president and CEO of the Corporation of General Entrepreneurs of Quebec (CEGQ), repeats that entrepreneurs are not ready. Clarifications are needed on the application of the new preventive measures.

The employers’ associations, of which the CEGQ is a part, have already requested the postponement of these provisions to 1 January 2024.

Laws are not postponed. This law was adopted last year, it was sanctioned, it enters into force on a staggered basisreplies Minister Jean Boulet.

Minister Boulet at a press conference.

The Minister of Labour, Jean Boulet

Photo: Radio-Canada / Sylvain Roy Roussel

For its part, the CNESST adds that “all efforts must be aimed at prevention and not at postponing the legislative measures already adopted”.

Answers required by building contractors

Éric Côté regrets that he does not have the answers to many questions regarding the terms of supervision and the cost of this measure.

The schools we will build will have health and safety representatives, as will the health facilities. These are costs that will appear in the plans, which the contractors could not have foreseen. We don’t have the answerscomplains Monsieur Côté.

He asks Minister Jean Boulet to sit at the table with the trade unions and the CNESST.

In terms of health and safety at work, one cannot improvise, one must be clear. I’m not at the moment. We ask for clarification. »

A quote from Éric Côté, CEO of the Corporation of General Contractors of Quebec (CEGQ)
Eric Cote.

Éric Côté, CEO of the Corporation of General Contractors of Quebec

Photo: Radio Canada

FTQ-Construction disagrees with this argument. According to Simon Lévesque, prevention must take precedence over costs: “All the statistics show that the more you invest in prevention, the less it costs, the better you organize your work and the more productive you are”.

Minister Boulet recalls that prevention is at the heart of this reform. “The main foundation of prevention is making sure everyone participates,” he adds.

Adopted in September 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Law Reform Act has come under much opposition from trade unions and employers. Actors agree, however, that the reform was necessary, it was the first in 40 years.

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