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Workplace Safety

Q&A with Seamus O’Regan

Mediaplanet asked the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Labour, about Canada’s efforts on keeping workers physically and mentally safe with the right to disconnect and other government initiatives

What is the biggest threat to workplace safety in Canada in recent years?

One of the biggest threats is badly-fitted personal protective equipment. It’s a threat to their health and safety. Proper PPE can be the difference between having the precision to adjust your harness when scaling a building or having to keep working with improper equipment. All because your gloves didn’t fit right.

Proper PPE is really important if we’re going to include more women in the trades. I met with Ministers of Labour from across Canada in early April, and we agreed we need to end this dangerous risk to Canadian workers.

Physical health and mental health are equally important to an individual’s overall health and wellbeing. How is the government of Canada supporting the psychological health and safety in the workplace?

We’re creating a right to disconnect for all federally regulated workers. It’s in the 2024 federal budget. We’re so used to answering work texts at all hours, but workers shouldn’t have to worry about their job if they don’t reply right away. If you’re sick and overworked, you’re not at your best. You’re not productive. Just as we did when we gave federally regulated workers 10 days of paid sick leave, we want workers to take the rest and time they earn every day on the job.

Why is the National Day of Mourning important for Canadians to observe?

This is a day for Canadians to honour workers who were killed or injured on the job. We remember the workers we’ve failed in the past, and the responsibility we all have – governments, unions, industry – to make sure every worker is safe, healthy, and respected on the job. No worker should have to risk their life or safety for a paycheque. Not in this country. Not anywhere.

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