Read the five-year strategy for Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety System.
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Message from the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
I want to congratulate our Chief Prevention Officer, Ron Kelusky, on presenting Prevention Works, which outlines his vision for the future occupational health and safety system.
The release of this document coincides with Ron’s retirement and is a testament to his amazing leadership, especially during one of the most challenging times in history. His tenure during the COVID‑19 pandemic renewed our commitment to preventing workplace hazards, particularly those unseen.
My mission is to ensure that every worker goes home safely to their family at the end of the day.
To move ever closer to that goal, I have three key priorities.
First, we need to Strengthen System Oversight, to identify causes of injuries and illnesses, find ways to make the best use of emerging technologies, build capacity to conduct risk assessments, monitor longitudinal data and enhance oversight and standardization of all occupational health and safety training.
Since the Ministry of Labour was expanded to oversee Training and Skills Development, it is critical to work not just with private training providers, but training delivery agents and hospital-affiliated research institutes alike who have established bodies of knowledge.
Second, we need to promote Secure Workplaces and Labour Mobility. This means developing a single-window platform to improve access to resources and real-time information, harmonizing regulations with other provinces, and adopting interprovincial training standards or adopting interprovincial certification.
Third, we need to Support Small Businesses and Customer Service Excellence. This includes reinforcing the value of improvements to health and safety outcomes, increased knowledge and compliance to drive increased productivity. It is important to help businesses improve their knowledge and practices of health and safety, such as providing affordable training programs or free resources. Likewise, we should also recognize good actors through initiatives like Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers (SOSE) and Health and Safety Excellence (HSEp) programs.
Ensuring all of our workers are safe in their jobs means creating a workplace culture that puts safety and prevention first.
Over the past year, workplaces have faced incredible challenges due to COVID‑19. But tens of thousands of workers and businesses rose to those challenges by adopting new health and safety measures to protect workers, including physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment and hand hygiene.
To support workers and employers, under Ron’s leadership, we developed guidance on creating a safety plan, provided workplace posters in multiple languages and delivered safety-related webinars. We also inspected over 58,000 workplaces to keep workers safe on the job.
Together, we worked hard to protect the dedicated individuals who continued to go to their jobs every day to provide essential services.
My priorities are informed by the hard lessons we’ve learned over the course of this pandemic. By working together to address long-term systemic issues, our province will continue to be one of the safest places to work in the years to come.
I thank our health and safety partners, the Prevention Council, stakeholders and the tens of thousands of essential businesses and workers for their commitment to this mission. I am also thankful for their efforts over the past year to keep our province running and our communities safe.
In closing, I’d like to once more congratulate Ron for his work to improve our health and safety system and ensure Ontario continues to be one of the safest places to work in the world.
Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
Message from the Chief Prevention Officer
It has been an honour and a privilege to be Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer for the past three years.
During this time, I met frequently with system partners and spoke to many workers, employers, and health and safety practitioners. Many of these partners are doing great work to keep our workplaces safe and healthy. I also read many studies and reports on occupational health and safety.
Throughout my work, one theme emerged: Ontario is already one of the safest provinces in Canada. But while we can take some comfort in that, there is room for improvement.
We need a better understanding of the factors that influence workplace health and safety. Finding the means to effectively measure our prevention activities and better target our initiatives and programs is one of our next steps. This is why my Prevention Works health and safety strategy focuses on tracking and using the best evidence possible to evaluate and improve workplace health and safety.
This new strategy builds on the previous Healthy and Safe Ontario Workplaces Strategy and the work the system has collectively done over the past ten years. Together, we have:
- implemented the Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers (SOSE) Program, which recognizes employers who implement accredited national and international occupational health and safety management systems
- created and implemented new working at heights training standards and built a robust administrative framework to help keep workers who work at heights safe and get the great training they deserve
- implemented standards to strengthen the internal responsibility system in Ontario by strengthening Joint Health and Safety Certification training to ensure certified members can help keep their workplaces safe
- developed mandatory basic worker and supervisor health and safety awareness training and created eLearning programs, which have been completed by millions of Ontario workers and supervisors
- created accessible and affordable Health and Safety Representative (HSR) training to support small business.
- modernized the ministry’s funding relationship with the Health and Safety Associations (HSAs) to increase accountability and ensure better use of evidence and performance measurement and improved return on investment
- implemented the majority of deliverables of the Construction Health and Safety Action Plan
- conducted risk assessments and root cause analysis to lay the foundation to focus our work and built capacity within the health and safety associations (HSAs) for conducting risk assessment and root-cause analysis workshops in the future.
We have made progress towards working together as a system, but there is still more to be done. While our understanding of the system has grown, over the next five years, we need to build new partnerships and expand our work, especially in the areas of occupational illness, work-related mental health and violence and harassment.
The past 18 months have been challenging, but they have also reconfirmed something I’ve always known: The system works better when we work together. We saw this during the pandemic, as we worked cohesively to roll out guidance documents, provide additional training, including a free basic infection prevention and control eLearning course and new technology, and gradually reopen the province while keeping workers healthy and safe.
This strategy builds on our recent momentum to help ensure every worker returns home safely each and every day. And although I will not be here to implement it, I know the strategy will be in good hands.
In closing, I want to commend all our system partners on the work they are doing and the support they have given me and my team over the past three years. I hope this support will continue into the future.
I look forward to watching the implementation of the strategy, in my retirement.
Thank you all