As chair of the Committee on Labour and the Economy, since last fall I have been presiding over Bill 59 project, commonly known as Bill 59, An Act to modernize the occupational health and safety regime. This bill is proposed by the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity,
Mr. Jean Boulet.
This Bill 59 includes 293 articles and rejuvenates two laws:
- Law on occupational health and safety (1979)
- Occupational health and safety regime for the prevention and compensation of workplace injuries and occupational diseases (1985).
Last fall, we heard from over thirty groups and professionals, and the commission received over 70 submissions for consideration.
Notwithstanding the controversies surrounding this bill, there is no doubt that Bill 59 proposes considerable strides as pointed out by certain groups and professionals. For example, if adopted, the prevention program and occupational health and safety committees will need to be established in all sectors of the economy. What is more, in this period of feminicide that we are living through, the recognition of violence and harassment at work constitutes an invaluable gain for all these women who are going through these difficult times. It proposes the addition of new diseases which will now be eligible for the presumption of occupational disease, such as new occupational cancers linked to the work of a firefighter, post-traumatic stress, diseases caused by lead poisoning.
As part of the detailed study of Bill 59, which began in January 2021, with the collaboration of all deputies (from the government and from the opposition parties), the minister accepted two important amendments which will have a major impact for our agricultural and wooded region.
First, he proposed adding Parkinson’s disease, often caused by exposure to pesticides, to the list of occupational diseases. At the same time, he agreed to add Lyme disease to this list, in connection with the tick carrying the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, an insect that we find more and more in our area.
Why is this so important and beneficial for our workers? Because these diseases benefit from a presumption right from the start, which means that people who work in agriculture or others with one of these diseases enjoy a reduced burden of proof. Obviously, certain conditions must be met.
In conclusion, the detailed study of Bill 59 is quite a challenge, the collaboration between the Minister and the members of this commission leads to productive discussions and makes it possible to enrich this project. We can rejoice in the recognition of these two diseases.
Do you know any workers in our region who have contracted one of these two diseases?
Claire IsaBelle and the team!