|Annual Report 2008|
The Toronto Workers' Health and Safety Legal Clinic exists to provide assistance to unorganized, low income workers in understanding and evaluating the health and safety hazards in their workplaces and to offer legal advice and representation on matters relating to occupational health and safety. The Clinic's activities in pursuit of those goals are described below under the following headings:
1. Law Reform
3. Outreach (including networking, community organizing and education)
1. LAW REFORM
Since the Liberal government took office in 2003, the Ministry of Labour has focused most of its attention and energy on its enforcement strategy. 200 new inspectors were hired in 2004/05 and this has resulted in more inspection visits and orders issued, but more needs to be done. The goal of the Ministry’s enforcement strategy is to reduce Ontario’s lost-time injury rate to 1.8 per 100 workers by 2008.
Unfortunately, the Ministry has shown considerably less interest or enthusiasm for introducing new legislation to improve health and safety conditions for workers in Ontario. No significant amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, nor any new regulations, have been enacted by the current government.
Highlights of the Clinic’s activities in the past year include:
(i) written submission to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) advocating the introduction of an accreditation program that would require employers to meet rigorous health and safety standards to qualify for financial incentives;
(ii) appearance before the Standing Committee on Finance to support an amendment to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act eliminating the practice of “deeming";
(iii) appearance before the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly to support passage of Community Right to Know legislation;
(iv) meeting with Ministry of Labour officials to advocate for more aggressive enforcement of health and safety legislation on behalf of migrant workers.
The Clinic continued to provide representation to individual clients before various boards and tribunals. With the assistance of Clinic staff, 6 clients received approximately $35,000 in compensation awards for wrongful dismissals under health and safety, human rights and employment standards legislation. In addition, the Clinic successfully represented 28 W.S.I.B., CPP and E.I. claimants who collectively were awarded over $880,000 in benefits under these three pieces of legislation ― 11 of these claims are ongoing and will provide the clients with income annually.
As the above statistics disclose, the bulk of the Clinic’s casework in recent years has shifted from s.50 OHSA reprisal cases to WSIB appeals. This seems to reflect a growing fear and/or disinterest among low income workers in enforcing their rights under OHSA.
The Clinic also provided summary advice, brief services and referrals in respect of 225 clients and opened 51 new files in 2007.
The Clinic’s Board of Directors have also had preliminary discussions about what services, if any, the Clinic should provide to workers who become involved in investigations/prosecutions under the Criminal Code. To this point, no requests for services have been made.
The Clinic's Community Legal Worker made 8 visits to social service and community agencies serving the Clinic's potential client base. The purpose of these visits is to ascertain ways to make information available to their clients about occupational health and safety and the services available from the Clinic. An additional target is to have presentations by the Clinic included in core programming, as part of any pre-employment or re-training curriculum within a specific agency.
Direct contact with front-line staff of the community and government agencies that deal with the Clinic's target client group is the most important way in which awareness about the services available from the Clinic can be promoted. We simply do not have the resources or manpower to reach the clients themselves through advertising or other promotional means.
The strategy of encouraging inclusion of occupational health and safety information in the core programming of community agencies through direct contact has been extremely successful. The Clinic's CLW and volunteers made 164 presentations to approximately 3703 participants in 2006. Unfortunately, due to funding cuts by HRSDC to several agencies where the Clinic has a long and established relationship, the number of participants and presentations went down last year. Because of the change in government, it is unclear if this trend will continue in 2007.
The Clinic was able to continue to deliver the "Young Worker Awareness Program" ― 57 workshops were presented to approximately 559 participants.
The Clinic continues to publish a newsletter with a circulation list of over 250. Each issue is an attempt to provide information and analysis of issues pertaining to occupational health and safety.
The Clinic maintains a web-site, www.worker-safety.com, to complement its communications strategy. The site includes information about the Clinic and its services, Clinic publications and related links. In addition, the Clinic has organized a team of volunteers who are dedicated to establishing a database of Coroners’ Jury Recommendations that became available on the website in 2007. To date, over 4751 visits have been made to the site since September 2003.
We hope to make further improvements to the website this year.
The Clinic continues to work with other groups, which share similar goals and objectives. These groups include the following:
1. Workers' Compensation Network
2. Toronto Injured Workers Advocacy Group (TIWAG)
3. O.F.L. Health and Safety Committee
4. Employment Standards Work Group (ESWG)
5. Bancroft Institute
6. C.P.P. Disability Work Group
7. Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW)
4. STATISTICAL INFORMATION
The number of open files for the period ending March 31, 2008 were as follows:
Law Reform 22
5. MEMBERSHIP REPORT
As of March 31, 2008, the Clinic had 215 members and a newsletter mailing list of approximately 265 names of individuals and organizations.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 24 October 2012. 180 Dundas St. West, 19th Floor; 5:30 pm.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
24 October 2012.
180 Dundas St. West,
19th Floor; 5:30 pm.
Clinic’s submission to M of L re new exposure limits. http://www.workers-safety.ca/remository?do=view&file=publications%3A+newsletter%2C+Workers+Guide%2C+FACT+SHEETS%2C+reports%2C+etc%7C2010+09%7C2010+09+20.++Submission+to+M+of+L.doc
Clinic’s “SUBMISSION TO THE [M of L] EXPERT ADVISORY PANEL ON ...[OH&S] / PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE PREVENTION AND ENFORCEMENT SYSTEM,” 30 June 2010. http://www.workers-safety.ca/remository?do=view&file=publications%3A+newsletter%2C+Workers+Guide%2C+FACT+SHEETS%2C+reports%2C+etc%7C2010+06%7C2010+06+30.+Submissions+to+MoL+Panel.doc
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 16 June 2010. Metro Hall, 7pm., 55 John Street, room 309, 3rd Floor. http://www.workers-safety.ca/remository?dir=publications%3A+newsletter%2C+Workers+Guide%2C+FACT+SHEETS%2C+reports%2C+etc%7C2010+06+++AGM
Clinic’s annual LAO budget approved. http://www.workers-safety.ca/remository?do=view&file=publications%3A+newsletter%2C+Workers+Guide%2C+FACT+SHEETS%2C+reports%2C+etc%7C2009+11.%7C2009+11+06.+Approved+Annual+Budget.doc
Financial Report 31 March 2010. http://www.workers-safety.ca/remository?do=view&file=publications%3A+newsletter%2C+Workers+Guide%2C+FACT+SHEETS%2C+reports%2C+etc%7C2010+03%7C2010+03+31.+++%24+report.pdf
Financial Report 31 March 2011.
Financial Report 31 March 2011.http://www.workers-safety.ca/publications?do=view&file=publications%3A+newsletter%2C+Workers+Guide%2C+FACT+SHEETS%2C+reports%2C+etc%7C2011+03%7C2011+03+31.+financial+report+++.pdf
LAO Spotlight http://www.workers-safety.ca/remository?do=view&file=publications%3A+newsletter%2C+Workers+Guide%2C+FACT+SHEETS%2C+reports%2C+etc%7C2009+12%7C2009+12.+LAO+Spotlight.pdf http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/news/newsarchive/0912-07_spotlight-twhslc.asp
Clinic’s submission re Bill 168. http://www.workers-safety.ca/remository?do=view&file=publications%3A+newsletter%2C+Workers+Guide%2C+FACT+SHEETS%2C+reports%2C+etc%7C2009+11.%7C2009+11+20.+TWHSLC+Bill+168+Submissions.doc
from the Ontario Ministry of Labour: Workplace Violence and Harassment: Understanding the Law / Health and Safety Guidelines http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/wpvh/violence.php http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pdf/wpvh_gl.pdf Protecting Workers From Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/pubs/fs_workplaceviolence.php
Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/eap/index.php
Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety / Report and Recommendations to the Minister of Labour, December 2010. http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/eap/report/index.php http://news.ontario.ca/mol/en/2010/12/new-chief-prevention-officer-to-oversee-workplace-safety.html http://news.ontario.ca/mol/en/2010/12/occupational-health-and-safety-panel-recommendations.html http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/ http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/907887--report-calls-for-sweeping-changes-after-scaffolding-deaths?bn=1
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 15 June 2011. 180 Dundas St. W. 19th floor
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
15 June 2011.
180 Dundas St. W.