Management and Governance of Occupational Health and Safety in Five Countries: NOHSAC Technical Report 8
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- Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy with a federal
system of parliamentary government comprising ten provinces and three territories. It is a
bilingual and multicultural nation, with both English and French as official languages at
the federal level. Canada is the world’s second largest country by total area, after
Russia, with a total area of 9,984,670 sq km, of which 9,093,507 sq km are land. Only
4.57% of the total land area is classified as arable.
- The current population estimate is 33.1 million. The current annual growth rate is
0.88%, with a birth rate of 10.78 births/1,000 population. In comparison with most
developed countries, Canada maintains a relatively high immigration rate.
- Canada is one of the world’s wealthiest nations and is a member of the G8. GDP
is $NZ1.67 trillion. GDP per capita is $NZ50,877. The GDP real growth rate is 2.9%. The
inflation rate in 2006 was 2.9%. Public debt is 69.6% of GDP.
- The labour force is 17.6 million, the employment rate is 63.0%, the unemployment rate
is 6.2% and the economic inactivity rate is not calculated.
- According to Statistics Canada (SC), the population is living longer and is generally
in better health than previous generations. Overall life expectancy is estimated at 77
years for males and 84 years for females. Canada is an ethnically diverse nation, with 34
ethnic groups with at least 100,000 members each. Canada’s aboriginal population is
growing almost twice as fast as the rest of the Canadian population.
- Recent health surveys reveal that heart disease, cancer, mental health problems,
HIV/AIDS, asthma, obesity and diabetes are some of the health conditions that continue to
affect many Canadians.
- The federal, provincial and territorial governments fund about 70% of all healthcare,
with the rest being privately funded. However, there are significant inequities in
accessing public healthcare. Access to specialised healthcare services is not
straightforward, with one in five reporting difficulties. In 2003, Canada spent 10% of GDP
on healthcare, about $NZ161.5 billion, or an average of $NZ5,105 per person.
- Canadian workers are covered by provincial or federal labour codes, depending on the
sector in which they work. The Canada Labour Code deals with workers covered by federal
legislation. This includes those in mining, transportation and federal employment. All
other workers are covered by the health and safety legislation of the provinces in which
- Health Canada runs the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS),
which is a vehicle for dissemination and communication to stakeholders, and was created by
the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Act 1977–78. The CCOHS is the
agency of the federal government that seeks to promote safe and healthy workplaces and
prevent work-related diseases and injuries. However, provincial and territorial labour
departments and workers’ compensation boards carry out a great deal of additional
work in this area. The CCOHS has a staff of 96 and an annual budget of $NZ5.9 million.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) was created in 2004. It has an interest in
injury prevention and runs a health surveillance programme. Injury prevention approaches
currently appear limited to the provision of information about specific activities (e.g.
equestrian, rugby, in-line skating) or the use of specific products (e.g. baby walkers,
infant swings, trampolines, shopping carts). This initiative is less aimed at the
workplace and more toward recreation and leisure, and family life.
- OSH is based on Part II of the Canada Labour Code 1985. The federal Labour Programme
is run by the Department of Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), which
is responsible for implementing the Canada Labour Code and developing relevant policy. The
current strategy involves the National Intervention Model, a process that assesses
components of OSH in workplaces and is supposed to provide the framework to improve any
- SC provides a centralised national system, with a legal basis from the Statistics Act
- There are four major organisations involved in relevant research at the national or
federal level: the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada; the CCOHS;
Health Canada through PHAC; and the HRSDC. The provincial authorities, either governmental
or workers’ compensation boards, also run research departments. For example,
WorkSafe BC runs a Research Secretariat. There are also independent research institutions
in Canada, some of which are highly productive. One example is the Toronto-based Institute
for Work & Health in Ontario.
- Mandatory/statutory workers’ compensation began in 1915 in Ontario.
Workers’ compensation remains a provincial responsibility in Canada, therefore the
exact rules vary from province to province.
- The majority of OSH programmes are conducted at provincial level by provincial
organisations. There is a limited amount of federal activity, and this is conducted in the
main by the HRSDC and the CCOHS. The current National Intervention Model is a six-step
multifactorial process aimed at collaboration with workplaces, with an emphasis on
high-risk sectors and employers, and the development of partnerships with employers and
employees. The overall goals and aspirations are to reduce fatalities and occupational
disease and injury rates, but there are also shorter-term pragmatic goals of improving
information quality, usability and user satisfaction, and increasing awareness of
- Evaluation of progress toward goals is currently based on data that are likely to be
unreliable, due to lower capture rates and lack of comparability between different
provincial systems. The evaluation of strategic projects is more systematic.
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