Manitoba announces 5 year workplace injury/illness prevention plan

May 1, 2013

On April 26 at an event to mark the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job, NDP Labour Minister Jennifer Howard announced a five year plan to reduce workplace injury and illness.

The plan was the result of the most compehensive workplace safety and health consultation ever undertaken in Manitoba. The consultations reviewed the Workplace Safety and Health Act, the Workers Compensation Board, and current prevention programming.

Highlights of the new plan include:

  • a commitment to double resources for prevention, and to improve its coordination with a new oversight body that includes representation from labour.
  • expanded funding for SAFE Workers of Tomorrow to make its training resources available to every Manitoba classroom.
  • new automatic financial penalties for high hazard safety violations (zero tolerance), tougher penalties for employers that backslide on safety improvement orders, and new penalties for employers that punish workers for exercising their safety rights.
  • strengthening the right to refuse unsafe work by preventing employers from reassigning work that has been refused until the safety concern has been investigated.
  • legislative protection for workers’ fundamental safety rights.
  • new financial incentives for employers that invest in real illness/injury prevention activities.
  • a new role for the province in setting standards for workplace safety training programs.
  • new supports to help smaller workplaces prevent injury/illness.
  • a legislatively protected role for the Chief Prevention Officer in reporting and making recommendations to improve workplace injury/illness prevention.

The Manitoba Federation of Labour and affiliated unions made submissions to all of the reviews that produced this report. We are pleased the report incorporates many – though not all – of our recommendations.

“This plan is real progress in the struggle for safe and healthy jobs,” said MFL President Kevin Rebeck. “Labour is prepared to work with government and employers on making it a reality.”

We would also like to recognize the key role played by long-time labour activist and NDP MLA Dave Gaudreau in developing of the new plan. He showed a clear understanding of the safety and health challenges faced by Manitoba workers, and ensured their perspective was brought to bear in the final plan.

The MFL remains concerned that the recommendations of the external review of the WCB may not be fully implemented. Those recommendations were a compromise, representing mere baby steps to fixing our workers compensation system. Failure to move forward on even those recommendations would only undermine the sagging faith of Manitoba workers in our workers compensation system. You can show your suppor for these recommendations HERE.