What is the Labour-Management H&S Network in Ontario? – workxid

What is the Labour-Management H&S Network in Ontario?

Jim Steketee
4 min

I will bet there are people out there who wonder how things get changed or added to the Act and Regulations we all have to work with for employers and workers in the Province of Ontario. In this article, I will discuss what happens in the Ontario construction sector to the best of my ability. I look forward to answering any questions and reading your comments.

Labour – Management Network

Labour-Management started with the Construction Safety Association of Ontario CSAO (amalgamated now called Infrastructure Health & Safety Association IHSA), which has been around since 1929. It became evident that if there was going to be more meaningful change in the Ontario construction industry, a vehicle needed to be created that included both Labour and Management to sit down on regular bases and talk about the industry’s problems and find solutions.

In the beginning, committees were set up in certain regional areas around the province (Toronto, Windsor, Hamilton, Thunderbay, etc.) for a total of 16. They meet monthly to discuss regional issues and have access to the Ministry of Labour MOL, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board WSIB, manufacturers, and or anyone they need/would like to speak with regarding numerous H&S topics. What transpired from those committees was a need to bring in each of the trades separately and give them the same status as the regional committees, which total 20. Committees have equal numbers of members, e.g., 5 management and 5 labour and all work on the consensus model. Committees mostly follow “Roberts Rules of Order” to record minutes and action items. A copy of all minutes is sent to the Provincial/Section 21 Committee and is available to the whole Network.

The Provincial/Section 21 Committee has both the regional and trades committees under its umbrella. Although they rarely dictate to the Regional or Trade committees, they have the final say if needed. Section 21 status was given to the Provincial Committee in the early 2000s, meaning that the MOL recognises that group as a body that speaks for the construction industry. The government takes their suggestions and comments as such.

In the early nineties, the General Manager of CSAO at the time approached the association’s board of directors (all management). He suggested being wholly transparent, taking the labour-management concept one step further, and inviting labour into the fold on a fifty-fifty directors split. Shortly after, the next step was to rotate the Presidency role of the association, one-year management and one-year labour. This has been going on for over 30 years, and as far as I am aware, Ontario is the only construction jurisdiction in Canada that does this. The benefits, in my opinion, of this change have been monumental for the industry, and the accomplishments are far too numerous to state in this blog.

Construction employers pay for all these committees to operate. When employers pay the premiums to the WSIB, a percentage goes to the operation (budget) of the safety association that represents that sector.

You may ask how I know all about this. I was hired by CSAO/IHSA (as a tradesman) to teach the 16-hour rigging program and worked my way up to being the Manager of the Labour-Management Department. I was one of the people that brought all the trade committees into the fold. I further contributed as the secretary of the Provincial/Section 21 committee.
Having witnessed what a Labour-Management Network is capable of, I do not understand why every province does not have the same setup!

Is it the perfect scenario?

I can attest that the ” Network ” works so well because both parties have one interest at heart: making sure every construction worker goes home to their family safely every day.

When working, I have had the opportunity to engage with every Province and travel to numerous states in the USA. Until someone shows me a better system, I would say Ontario has set the bar regarding the total inclusion of both parties in a very meaningful way for the betterment of the whole construction sector, but I admit I am biased.

I will continue to add to this blog, and as I said, I look forward to all the questions and comments.