Today in North York, OPSEU and its labour allies celebrated a huge victory with the introduction of key regulations on health and safety in health care workplaces.
The government announced it is providing 55-million N95 respirators and mandating the use of safety engineered needles or needle-less systems to protect health care workers in Ontario hospitals.
OPSEU, along with the Service Employees International Union the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Shelley Martel, MPP and other allies, have been campaigning for several years against the government for the introduction of safety-engineered needles and sharps.
Also, since the recent SARS pandemic, OPSEU and ONA have pushed for government regulation to protect health care workers against infectious disease.
A new regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act will make safety engineered needles or needle-less systems mandatory in all hospitals as of Sept. 1, 2008.
The government says it intends to mandate the use of safety engineered needles or needle-less systems in long-term care homes, psychiatric facilities, laboratories and specimen collection centres in 2009 and in other health care workplaces (home care, doctor's offices, ambulances, etc.) in 2010.
In his final report on SARS, Justice Campbell focused on the need to protect the safety of the province's front line health care workers. As a result, the province has adopted the "precautionary principle" when faced with infectious disease outbreaks – this means safety first and foremost for Ontario's health care workers, specifically in providing personal protective equipment. OPSEU and its allies specifically asked Justice Campbell for this.
More details will be available.