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Telecoms ask to intervene in SCC workplace safety case

News | 08/10/2018 4:56 pm EDT
The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa./ Hill Times file photo.

Rogers Communications Inc. and BCE Inc. are among a number of organizations that have asked the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) to intervene in a case involving workplace safety obligations in areas outside of their control.

At issue in Canada Post Corp. v. Canadian Union of Postal Workers is whether a company must provide safety inspections where employees find themselves outside of the job’s physical location. The Federal Court found the obligation unreasonable because the postal service doesn’t control its carrier routes and points, but the Federal Court of Appeal overruled that decision. The SCC granted Canada Post’s appeal in April.

“It’s an unworkable and unrealistic requirement,” Marc Choma, spokesman for Bell, said in an emailed statement about the appeal court’s decision. Bell filed its application to intervene jointly with CBC/Radio-Canada this week.

The Federal Court of Appeal reinstated a Health and Safety Officer’s original decision that obligated the postal service to conduct annual safety inspections on their letter carrier routes and points in Burlington, Ont., the location of which the original union employee complaint stems. Canada Post challenged that decision to the Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal Canada, which found the decision to be unreasonable.

Telecoms and media organizations are in the crosshairs of this decision because they both employ workers who don’t simply stay in one place. For example, telecoms need technicians to install equipment in homes and journalists must be free to report on events outside of their places of employment.

“We are just one of many parties seeking to intervene in the case to offer a broader perspective of the implications of this decision,” Bell’s statement added. Those parties include a number of courier companies.

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