As Quebec updates its occupational health and safety legislation, Morneau Shepell is calling for the province to ensure the update stays true to the fundamental principles on which the regime was conceived, while keeping it competitive with other provinces.

The company recently released a report on Bill 59, the act to modernize the legislation, and used interprovincial comparisons with workers’ compensation plans in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba to reach its conclusions. Specifically, the report compared the performance of the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail’s safety obligations, return-to-work processes, compensation level, occupational disease, assignment of cost transfers and plan financing to other provinces.

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The analysis showed the Quebec scheme is the most generous compared to those of other provinces, according to a press release about the report. Given its generous status, the compensation fund for the insurance plan must be administered in a way that ensures its future, while allowing it to remain competitive with the other Canadian provinces, argued the report.

“After more than 35 years, the time has come to modernize Quebec’s occupational health and safety regime,” said Sylvain Lebel, senior vice president of health and productivity solutions with Morneau Shepell, in the press release.

“Employers and employees need to work together to prevent occupational injury and disease, sustain the employment relationship and offer fair and equitable compensation to workers. We must also ensure that our public plan is competitive with respect to the other Canadian provinces. . . . Bill 59 is an excellent opportunity to modernize the occupational health and safety regime in terms of both the prevention and rehabilitation of occupational injury and disease.”

The legislation is based on combined efforts of employers and employees to prevent occupational injuries and continue the employment relationship vital to rehabilitation. “In that regard, we must avoid, as other provinces have shown, the pitfalls of creating time-consuming and complex structures, particularly for our small businesses,” said Bernard Cliche, a lawyer emeritus and consulting partner with Morency Law Firm, in the release. The law firm worked closely with Morneau Shepell in drafting the report.

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