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Fonseca talks workplace violence at HR event

By Mari-Len De Guzman

The Ontario Ministry of Labour will make resources available for employers in the province to help them comply with new requirements under Bill 168, a new law that adds workplace violence and harassment protection to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

At the opening ceremony of the Human Resource Professionals Association’s (HRPA) annual conference and trade show, Labour minister Peter Fonseca told an audience of HR professionals that the ministry is “adopting more modern technology” in an effort to help employers comply with the recent amendments, which comes into effect on June 15, 2010.

“To assist employers, our ministry and our occupational health and safety system partners are preparing resources to help employers achieve compliance with the amendments. My ministry is adopting more modern technologies to help us to engage better with business and to facilitate compliance by providing better certainty and clarity of our requirements,” Fonseca said.

The labour minister also reminded HR professionals that amending the Occupational Health and Safety Act is only part of the equation when it comes to workplace violence prevention.

“The other component is the implementation of best practices and a sincere commitment by employers and employees to banish all violence in the workplace,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Labour has had “positive relations” with the HRPA, particularly in consulting about various legislative initiatives for Ontario workers.

On the same day that Fonseca addressed the province’s HR professionals, the government has called for a comprehensive review of Ontario’s occupational health and safety prevention and enforcement system. The review will look at national and international best practices for workplace health and safety, and will make recommendations for structural, operational and policy improvements to the province’s OHS system.

“Today we live in challenging and changing times, both for government, employers and employees. Our determination to succeed is being tested. Our government must reflect the realities of a changing workplace and we must seek to make our workplaces fair, safer, as well as more competitive,” Fonseca said.

Antoinette Blunt, chair of the HRA board, also talked about the changing workplace brought about by globalization. “Globalization means that the world has become a much smaller place.”

Blunt challenged HR professionals to become “change agents” allowing better understanding between employers and workers.

The HRPA’s annual conference and trade show was held from Jan. 27 to 29 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Some of the guest speakers included: Nick Bontis, associate professor of strategic management at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.; Bertice Berry, a sociologist and award-winning lecturer; and David Ulrich, a professor of business at Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

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