Minister of Labour, Charles Sousa, addressed approximately 30 representatives of the construction industry on Bill 160 at a COCA hosted Meet the Minister event on the morning of Friday May 13th at the Centre for Health and Safety Innovation in Mississauga.
After delivering the prescribed political preamble about the successes of the McGuinty government, including infrastructure spending to thwart the economic downturn and post recession job creation, Sousa recognized that everyone in the audience was well informed about the Dean review process and the recommendations contained in Dean's report, so he departed from his prepared PowerPoint and stepped out from behind the podium to engage in less formal conversation in a way that impressed everyone. He explained that Bill 160 simply enables the creation of a prevention entity within the Ministry of Labour, the Chief Prevention Officer position to lead it and a Prevention Council to advise the Chief Prevention Officer and that it does not implement all of Dean's recommendations. He acknowledged the important role played by COCA Vice Chair Domenic Mattina as one of only three employer representatives on Dean's Expert Panel and as a member of the Interim Prevention Council. He also recognized COCA's important contributions throughout the review process and noted that several of the recommendations for amendments to Bill 160 made by COCA will be enacted if the Bill is passed as expected, in the very near future. Sousa also gave assurances that there will be full and transparent accountability to employers for the monies they invest in the prevention system through their WSIB premiums. When questioned about the CPO position, he said it will be filled in the coming months and that he expects the individual selected will have a three to five year mandate to lead the start-up and manage the new prevention entity. Once Bill 160 passes third reading and the CPO is in place much work will follow and it is expected that the positive spirit of the Dean review process will carry through in its implementation under the new CPO.
COCA is grateful to Minister Sousa for taking the time from his busy schedule to meet with representatives of the construction industry and for the open, informal and engaging manner of his presentation.