(Quebec) Hard week for the Minister of Labor, Jean Boulet: his long-awaited reform of occupational health and safety standards has been harshly criticized by unions as well as by health professionals.
His Bill 59 is sexist and ignores scientific data, according to what was heard during consultations which lasted from Tuesday to Friday.
Again on Friday, the government was criticized for having completely forgotten teleworking, the new reality which has nevertheless been gaining more and more popularity since the start of the pandemic.
The bill would modernize the current law, which dates back more than 40 years, but it contains significant flaws and “historic setbacks”, as the Confédération des Syndicates National (CSN) has deplored among others.
The Union of injured workers also sees it as “a throwback of 35 or 40 years”.
By eliminating the notion of the “preponderance” of the opinion of the attending physician, Bill 59 announces the return of “companion medicine”, that is to say of physicians paid by the employer who will challenge each one. claims, the organization worries.
“To have a chance to win their case, victims often have to commit a small fortune in legal fees and expertise,” we read in their memory. All the major unions have also denounced this breach concerning the opinion of the attending physician.
The Federation of Medical Specialists (FMSQ) is concerned about the “loss of independence of doctors” and stresses that medical expertise “must remain independent”.
The College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists also criticized the government on Friday for ignoring scientific data and studies.
The bill “attacks women in several ways”, further deplored Félix Lapan, the representative of the Union of injured workers.
Because under this reform, several predominantly female employment sectors will no longer be subject to current prevention mechanisms. Thus, hospitals would be considered at low risk of accident when a large number of injuries are reported each year.
“It disadvantages our sectors, education, health, higher education, because our groups, mostly women, would find themselves in risk levels classified ‘low’,” lamented the president of the CSQ, Sonia Éthier.
“You have to have been an educator in a youth center, you have to be a beneficiary and work with heavy patients to understand that it is not true that it is not at risk”, pleaded the president of the CSN. , Jacques Létourneau.
According to the organization Télétravail Québec, all companies must be forced to adopt a policy on teleworking to clarify the rules.
“The fact of not having the term“ teleworking ”in the bill suggests that teleworking is not a priority, affirmed the president of Télétravail Québec, José Lemay-Leclerc. The minimum would be to include it in the project, it would be a form of promotion. ”
Jean Boulet argued for his part that it was better to recommend companies to adopt a policy rather than forcing them.
“Regardless of the place of work, in a café, at home or at the establishment, there is an obligation (for the employer) to use the techniques to eliminate, control and properly identify the risks”, a- he argues.
The spokesperson for Quebec solidaire in the matter, Alexandre Leduc, criticized the minister’s “wait-and-see attitude”, while the PQ member Sylvain Roy believes that “the minister recommends laissez-faire”.
Right to disconnect
Télétravail Québec has also asked the government to recognize employees a “right to disconnect”, to limit the requirements of an employer who provides digital tools to its employees. In an interview last year, the minister said he was “concerned” about the “potential for abuse”.
“Regulating the disconnection, it is really not easy”, suggested the minister, Friday, by closing the door to this demand.