MP says shortage of federal health and safety officers a problem in Northern Ontario

Carol Hughes

OTTAWA—Health and safety measures that ensure workplace safety can’t be enforced if there aren’t enough officers to cover a region, which is the case with federal inspectors in Northern Ontario, according to Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes.

Ms. Hughes raised the issue in Parliament recently as she tabled petitions that call on the government to pay attention to the needs of the region which she pointed out has been limping along on the services of one individual for too long.

“Canada has lost more than half of its federal health and safety officers since 2005 so this is part of a bigger trend,” said Ms. Hughes. “But it’s a real problem in Northern Ontario, which is only served by one officer whose work can be interrupted by injury, illness or absence.”

These officers ensure that federally regulated workplaces are adhering to regulations. With one officer serving such a large geographic space, delays are common place.

“The Public Service Alliance of Canada and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives are calling for an increase of officers working in sectors under federal jurisdiction such as postal services, or air and rail transport,” said Ms. Hughes. “Delays like this affect more than workplace health and safety. They can lead to problems that ultimately affect production.”

Ms. Hughes echoes the call for the minister of labour to increase the number of federal health and safety officers in Northern Ontario stating that this important work should be able to proceed at all times without interruption.

“The only way to fix the problem is to add more officers to the region,” said Ms. Hughes. “Saving money should never be done at the expense of health and safety. Over the long term there won’t even be any savings if our workplaces are unsafe and their capacity to produce is limited by that.”