HULL -- February 11, 1997 -- Ministers of Labour met today to discuss key issues affecting workplaces throughout Canada. The agenda included the changing nature of the workplace, labour-management cooperation, occupational safety and health responsibilities, the future strategic directions of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, interjurisdictional cooperation and international labour issues.
The meeting provided a forum for Ministers to share information and identify concerns related to emerging issues in the workplace such as the growth of new forms of employment and the impact of technology on workers. There was consensus among Ministers that responding to the challenges and opportunities of these changes required the involvement of all parties, employees, labour, employers and governments.
Federal Labour Minister and meeting co-chair, Alfonso Gagliano, cited the importance of the meeting taking place during this challenging period of profound workplace change.
"Each jurisdiction realizes the nature, the importance and scope of the changes affecting the workplace," said Mr. Gagliano. "While we may have different views as to how to address these situations, we all share a common goal, that of finding the best ways for our governments to protect workers, while at the same time promoting jobs and growth during this period of transition".
For his part, Matthias Rioux, the Quebec Labour Minister and co-chair, stated that "workplaces are undergoing significant change and we should take advantage of this situation to prepare, as governments, labour, employers and employees for the opportunities ahead of us". He added that "his profound conviction is that it is necessary to re-establish a healthy socio-economic logic and that only through consultation and partnerships will we be able to reach that objective."
Ministers exchanged views in light of the recent report prepared jointly by representatives of Labour and Employers in Newfoundland and Labrador on labour relations legislation and policies entitled New Century - New Realities - Creating a Framework Together. Following a presentation by the Newfoundland and Labrador Minister, Kevin Aylward, they expressed support for cooperation regarding the exchange of information about best practices in the workplace.
Ministers discussed workplace health and safety responsibilities and Ontario's Minister of Labour, Elizabeth Witmer, stated "that health and safety legislation should encourage employers, employees and employee representatives to create a workplace environment in which there is a demonstrated, mutual commitment to, competence in, and accountability for health and safety on the part of everyone in the workplace". A presentation by Bob Mitchell, the Saskatchewan Minister of Labour, was particularly well received, highlighting developments in the province in occupational safety and health over the last 25 years.
Provincial Ministers with Labour responsibilities in Atlantic Canada, as well as the federal Minister of Labour, have agreed to put in place guidelines for mutual assistance arrangements.
Examples of areas where governments are interested in sharing expertise are in technical aspects of occupational safety and health, such as mining, industrial hygiene and radiation, in developing and providing training to staff and in conciliation and mediation services. Governments would enter into specific arrangements as appropriate to their needs.
Under the leadership of Quebec, Ministers have agreed to launch the Labour Information Sharing System (LISS) that will permit Ministries/Departments responsible for Labour across the country to share information, to assist all jurisdictions in policy development and sharing of best practices.
The immediate objective of LISS is to avoid duplication of effort by maximizing the availability of research and background information. Its longer term objective is the formation of a virtual forum of Labour Department expertise among all jurisdictions where issues that may have common application can be discussed and researched in a collective and cooperative way.
Ontario and the federal government have agreed to a pilot project for the co-ordination and integration of labour standards call centre activities in order to improve service to clients.
On the issue of child labour, Ministers strongly supported their federal counterpart, for Canada's active participation in the development of a new International Labour Organization (ILO) instrument aimed at addressing the most exploitative forms of child labour world wide. They also expressed support for Canadian initiatives aimed at modernizing the ILO and equipping the organization to address critical social repercussions of global economic integration.
|Federal Minister of Labour's Office
Telephone: (819) 953-5646
|Quebec Minister of Labour's Office
Telephone: (418) 643-5297