The Quebec Employers Council and the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec are pushing for an in-depth reform of Quebec's occupational health and safety system.
With 2010 marking the 30th anniversary of the safety system — which costs employers $2.4 billion annually — the council and the two groups are proposing a number of modifications to laws governing this area.
"Remarkable progress has been achieved in the last few years," said Yves-Thomas Dorval, president of the Quebec Employers Council. "This includes a 29-per-cent reduction in the number of cases indemnified for occupation injuries in the period from 1999 to 2008, even as the payroll for workers covered by the system rose by 19 per cent.
“But the current occupational health and safety system has existed for more than 30 years and our society has changed significantly in that time. Over the years, many dysfunctions have appeared. In the 10 years from 1999 to 2008, despite a sharp reduction in the number of cases indemnified, income replacement payments rose by 69 per cent."
The recommendations aim to make the health and safety system less expensive and improve its performance by correcting various problems, especially in terms of prevention, overpayments, returning to work, medical assistance, preventive withdrawal and system management.
"The Quebec government, in partnership with employers and workers, must definitely revise the system to take account of the changes that have occurred at workplaces,” said Françoise Bertrand, president and CEO of the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec. “With companies operating in a context of worldwide competition, they must maintain their productivity, and to achieve this they must benefit from an occupational health and safety system that is fair, efficient and competitive."
Tightening is required, said the two groups, in the measures contained in two laws covering Quebec's occupational health and safety system: the Act respecting occupational health and safety and the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases. The terms under which these laws are applied also need to be revised.
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