Labour ministers focusing on further OHS harmonization

Move will allow organizations to work more seamlessly across multiple jurisdictions

Federal, provincial and territorial labour ministers are working together to further harmonize occupational health and safety across the country.


“(The) support for harmonized interprovincial occupational health and safety requirements is great news for workers and employers across Canada. Workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace while employers benefit from the same standards to protect them across the country,” said Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu. “We will continue to collaborate with provincial and territorial colleagues to deliver change that works for everyone."

At a meeting on Jan. 30 in St. John’s, N.L., collaboration was a key topic of the discussions. The ministers agreed to reconcile important occupational health and safety standards for first-aid kits, head protection, eye and face protection, hearing protection, foot protection and personal flotation devices and life jackets. This agreement will simplify regulatory requirements for organizations, allowing them to work more seamlessly across multiple jurisdictions without compromising health and safety protections for workers, Employment and Social Development Canada said. At the meeting, the ministers signed the National Occupational Health and Safety Reconciliation Agreement that aims to reduce or eliminate trade barriers within Canada.


Ministers also discussed the importance of sharing information on preventing workplace harassment and violence, and explored different approaches to reduce wage gaps.


In July 2015, the Council of the Federation met and discussed internal trade and confirmed their commitment to working in areas of their own jurisdiction, such as occupational health and safety, to reduce technical barriers to trade. Following this commitment, at the federal, provincial and territorial meeting held in Ottawa in January 2018, the ministers endorsed an agreement-in-principle document that clarified key principles and considerations associated with occupational health and safety harmonization.