By Maureen Shaw
I am one of many in the country who had the honour and opportunity to work with and get to know Jim Flaherty. He was the minister of labour in Ontario from 1997 to 1999.
I will always remember the first time he spoke at the opening of Health and Safety Canada. He had done his own research and surprised me with his knowledge of the history of our wonderful organization and its contributions to society, to the war effort during both world wars, the contribution to conceiving of the ILO Safe Work program. He had a natural understanding of the integral link between safe and healthy workforce and organizations to business prosperity and sustainability.
Above all, his intelligence, his sense of fairness, sense of humour and ability to really listen will stays with me today.
I had the honour to travel across Western Canada with him on a tour to explore what other jurisdictions were doing in workplace health and safety and labour standards. They were long days, full of intelligent conversations, learnings and laughter. What you saw was what I call authenticity. He enjoyed debating ideas; I think partly to test your thinking and always listened fully. I can now say without concern he was a favourite minister of labour (of the many) I worked with.
My warmest thoughts are with Jim's family and colleagues. A very sad loss for all and for the country.
Photo: Maureen Shaw and Jim Flaherty at the IAPA Conference opening in 1999
Maureen Shaw is the former president and CEO of the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (now amalgamated into the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services). She spent over 14 years as leader of the IAPA, transforming it from a traditional safety training organization to one that approaches workplaces as psychologically safe and healthy places for people and business to be prosperous. Maureen holds key positions in several national organizations, including the Mental Health Commission of Canada where she is a member of the advisory committee on workforce mental health.