New Report on Rethinking Social Assistance

A new report, published by the Mowat Centre, argues that patterns in Canada’s labour market are creating a growing number of Canadians with little or no attachment to our country’s social architecture. The report questions the extent to which Canada’s social architecture is suited to the new realities of work, including automation, the rise of short-term contracts and the “gig” economy. Within this context, millions of Canadians could lose their jobs to automation, or see their full-time positions replaced with short-term contracts. Unless policy makers embrace transformational changes to our social safety net, many of our social policies and programs will prove inadequate to meet these challenges, which could place an enormous strain on governments at all three levels.

The fissures in existing social programs
and policies are already evident, whether it
is unemployed workers ineligible for EI, a shortage of affordable childcare spaces or barriers to accessing mental health services
and pharmaceuticals. As more people enter
the gig economy of self-employed, independent contractors or lose out to automation, their place within Canada’s social architecture will become even more tenuous.

 

Read the full report here.

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PTSD Bill Passes Third Reading

The government has passed Bill 163, the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act, which will make post-traumatic stress disorder a presumptive condition for first responders. The legislation applies to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, some workers in correctional institutions and youth justice facilities, emergency response teams, and dispatchers of police, firefighter and ambulance services. The bill will also allow the Minister of Labour to request employers of workers covered by the act to publish PTSD prevention plans.

You can read a final copy of the bill here.

For more:

PTSD Resource Toolkit 

PTSD Employer’s Resource Guide 

PTSD Prevention Plan Template

Three New Job Categories Added to PTSD Bill

The government has added three new job categories to Bill 163, Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act. Workers in these job categories will now be able to claim workplace injury benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder. The additions come after a range of stakeholders asked the government to expand coverage of the bill.

The new categories added are:

  • Members of an emergency response team (generally volunteers) who respond to emergencies in northern, rural and remote communities
  • Ambulance service managers
  • Dispatch workers (for firefighters, police, or any other worker who receives emergency calls that initiative the dispatch of ambulance services, firefighters and police officers)

For more:

Bill 163, Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act 

Committee Told to Expand Coverage of PTSD Bill

At its hearings this week on Bill 163 (PTSD Bill), the Standing Committee on Social Policy heard from a number of witnesses that the current legislation excludes job categories that should be covered. Amongst other things, BIll 163 would make post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a workplace illness.

Witnesses (including the Ontario Provincial Police Association, the Police Association of Ontario, the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs, the Canadian Mental Health Association, and CUPE) identified a number of job categories that they think should be covered, including

  • Dispatchers (which are currently covered in the Bill, but only in a limited fashion according to The Ontario Provincial Police Association)
  • Civilians working in forensic crime units and the Violent Crime Linkage Analysis system
  • Special constables
  • Communicator call takers
  • Investigative support staff
  • Forensics staff
  • Garage personnel
  • Probation and parole officers
  • Provincial bailiffs
  • First-responder teams in northern, rural and remote communities (often volunteers)
  • Privately contracted security professionals (especially those working in detention centres, hospitals, and correctional institutions)
  • Front-line workers in psychiatric hospitals

For more:

Bill 163, Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) 

Committee Transcripts, Standing Committee on Social Policy 

Province to Introduce Presumptive PTSD Legislation for First Responders

The government has announced that it will introduce legislation that would create a presumption that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosed in first respondents is assumed to be work-related. This legislation is designed to ensure that first responders are able to access resources and treatment quickly. If enacted into law the legislation would do the following:

  • Expedite the claims for those diagnosed with PTSD, to ensure eligibility for WSIB benefits
  • Remove the need to prove a causal link between PTSD and a workplace event
  • Require employers to implement PTSD prevention plans within the workplace

For more:

Ontario to Introduce Legislation to Support First Responders with PTSD

Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder), 2016

Government Announces New PTSD Strategy for First Responders

The government of Ontario has announced a new strategy to help prevent and mitigate the risk of PTSD amongst first responders. The new strategy includes a a range of initiatives including:

  • An online toolkit with PTSD resources for first responders
  • Funding for research that supports the prevention of PTSD
  • An annual summit hosted by the Minister of Labour to high best-practices for dealing with PTSD
  • An ad campaign to raise awareness about PTSD amongst first responders and their families

For more:

Government of Ontario: Ontario Announces New PTSD Strategy for First Responders 

Ministry of Labour: Summit on Work-Releated Traumatic Mental Stress-Summary Report 

 

New Report Raises Questions About Municipal Pensions

New research published by the Munk School’s Institute of Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) examines the organizational structure, governance, and, administration of municipal pension plans. The findings suggest that while municipal pension plans are largely in a satisfactory financial situation, many of these plans are exposed to substantial risk, and in some cases are vulnerable to outcomes, which in the past have had negative implications for municipal finances.

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However, the report also argues that there are a number of data limitations that makes it difficult to gain a comprehensive picture of municipal pension plans. These issues can be overcome by coordinated action by municipalities and their pension plans.

For more:

Municipal Employee Pension Plans in Canada: An Overview 

 

AMO Presents Submission on Double-Hat Firefighters

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) has presented a submission to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy regarding Bill 109, the Employment and Labour Statute Amendment Act, 2015. The submission focuses on schedules 1 and 3 and follows similar calls by AMO to allow full time firefighters to “double-hat” by serving as volunteer firefighters in smaller communities. This issue became contentious last year following a high profile dispute between the Union of Professional Firefighters and a so-called “double-hatter.”

According to AMO:

Full-time firefighters have valuable skills to offer local communities in Ontario. First, full-time firefighters and their current full time work schedules enable them to be available to work in the communities in which they live. Second, full-time firefighters are highly skilled individuals who can bring invaluable service and experience to their community. The use and reliance on volunteer firefighters is particularly prevalent in smaller and rural communities located throughout the province. Our member communities use “two-hatters” to increase their levels of experience and expertise and we believe this is a very good thing. It is important to remember that full-time firefighters love their communities and want to contribute. Volunteer firefighting is one central way in which they do so. AMO appreciates the courageous position of volunteer firefighters who believe in the principle of freedom to volunteer in their communities.

 

For more:

AMO: Bill 109, Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015: Submission to the Standing Committee on Social Justice Policy 

Hicks Morley: Ontario Government to Amend Workplace Laws