McMaster Labour Studies Certificate Material

This presentation reviews Labour’s responses to COVID 19 and proposes best practices going forward. It was originally presented to the participants of the McMaster’s Labour Studies: Challenges Facing Labour 1: Health, Safety and Stage 2-3 of COVID on September 2, 2020.

I gave this presentation. If you are interested, you can find out more about me and my background

As the pandemic continues we learn more and more about the virus. For our purposes it is enough to know that it is very contagious and kills. There is some evidence to support the claim that it is airborne but most of the policy to date focuses on the belief that it is spread via droplets.

The Campbell Commission has done much of the ground work to establish why labour should be included as a full partner in the response. The SARS Report found that the Ministry of Health and public health authorities were not experts in worker safety and they approached the problem of worker safety from a health system perspective. This approach contributed to the death of healthcare workers.

Unfortunately, even with the guidance of the SARS report, the government, Ministry of Health and public health authorities are making the same mistakes. While the MOL has grown to include experts in occupational hygiene and infectious diseases there is a feeling among worker representatives that they have been hesitant to use the full power of this expertise to aid workers.

The big priorities for labour to ensure a healthier workplace are to seek involvement in briefings and decision making structures, understand what your CA covers and the limits of WSIB and to communicate with your members to build credibility.

Employer protocols should be developed with the involvement of the JHSC. Provincial Health and Safety organizations provide industry specific guidance.

Industry H&S organizations are listed on the MOL website along with other resources.

Industry H&S groups offer robust sector specific guidance on COVID response. These groups are made up of management and labour representatives.

Not all decisions are science based. This is a political discussion so keeping members informed and crafting your message are important. Think about how the conflict impact the general public or the people you serve. Whats in it for me is an important question to answer for you prospective audience.

Put your energy where it counts. This disease is primary transmitted by breathing people to breathing people. Once you establish masks, hand washing and distance, measures should focus on decreasing risks associated with respiratory droplets passing from person to person.

These three measures should be a basic starting point for the discussion of workplace COVID policies.

Work refusals have not resulted in a lot of orders during the Pandemic. There has been a reported pattern of MOL Inspectors brokering deals between workers and unions to make the workplace safer without orders.

Feel free to email me with any questions. 🙂