BC judge says workplace law too vague union leaders question industry impact

by Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press Posted Feb 26, 2016 12:46 pm MDT Last Updated Feb 26, 2016 at 6:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email VANCOUVER – A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has concluded the province’s workplace-safety laws are too vague in a decision union leaders say threatens to undermine B.C.’s entire regulatory regime.Justice George Macintosh tossed out allegations on Friday that an asbestos-removal contractor and his son disobeyed a 2012 court order to comply with the Workers Compensation Act, saying the law is too complex and difficult to understand.“If the court is to punish anyone for not carrying out its orders, the order must in unambiguous terms direct what is to be done,” Macintosh said.“Even if every word of the act or the regulation (were) contained in the order, it would still be impossible in my view for the respondents to know when they went to work each day whether their work put them … in contempt of this court.”The 2012 order was directed at Seattle Environmental Consulting Ltd., owner Mike Singh and his son Shawn Singh.Between 2007 and 2012, WorkSafeBC issued 237 violation notices to the company and two men. It also imposed fines in excess of $200,000.Those breaches included failing to correctly identify asbestos during building surveys, neglecting to put up warning signs and leaving potentially contaminated drywall debris uncovered on countertops and carpets.Macintosh’s ruling also dismissed the Singhs’ application that the 2012 order be set aside, despite finding it “overly broad and unclear.”Mike Singh said he was happy with the decision but that he would appeal Macintosh’s decision upholding the court order.“I want to make it clear … we do not expose people to asbestos, period,” Singh said.Lee Loftus of the B.C. Insulators Union described the judgment as “ludicrous.”“This is just right off the wall for me,” Loftus said outside the courthouse.“Here we have an employer that has hundreds of violations of the regulations that he has been documented with and served with. He knows what the law is. He knows what the regulation is. And the judge has ignored that.”Irene Lanzinger, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, said the notion that a company with expertise in asbestos removal wouldn’t understand the laws governing its industry is “nonsense.”“We will be urging (the Workers Compensation Board) to appeal,” she said.WorkSafeBC spokeswoman Trish Chernecki said the agency will review the ruling in detail and consider its legal options, including filing an appeal.The head of the Hazardous Materials Association, Don Whyte, said he was shocked by what he called “the wrong decision.”“They teach me in elementary school that ignorance of the law is no excuse,” Whyte said. “Now we have a judgment that is telling us that if the law is too complex you don’t have to follow it.”This ruling will call into question the entire regulatory regime governed by the Workers Compensation Act, he added.— Follow @gwomand on Twitter B.C. judge says workplace law too vague, union leaders question industry impact read more

Young people struggle to cope with setbacks as happiness falls to lowest

first_imgThe charity said it would work with mental health charity Young Minds to review its programmes so it could incorporate aspects which would help participants’ mental health. The charity, founded in 1976, works with disadvantaged young people to help them get a job or continue their education. Figures released earlier this week by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers suggested that 96 per cent of teachers had worked with children who were experiencing mental health issues.  Today’s youngsters are the unhappiest in almost a decade because they do not know how to cope with setbacks, research by the Prince’s Trust has found. The charity, founded by the Prince of Wales, said worries about the future, money, and “not being good enough” were “piling up” on young people aged 16-25. Its research found that happiness and confidence in emotional health had dropped to their lowest levels since 2009.Its index rates young people’s emotional health by ranking happiness levels in areas such as work and relationships from 0 to 100. In this year’s survey the overall average figure was 57, a four-point fall from the previous year and down from 70 when the study was first carried out. Almost half of the young people said they did not feel they could cope well with setbacks in life. Financial worries were behind the issues experienced by many respondents, with one in three saying that being without a job would put their mental health at risk. One in ten said they had lost a job through redundancy or having a contracted terminated or not renewed, or being fired, and 54 per cent said they were worried about their finances. 61 per cent of young people said they regularly felt stressed, 53 per cent said they regularly felt anxious and 27 per cent said they felt hopeless on a regular basis. Almost half said they had experienced a mental health problem.Nick Stace, UK chief executive at The Prince’s Trust, said: “It should ring alarm bells for us all that young people are feeling more despondent about their emotional health than ever before.”This is a generation rapidly losing faith in their ability to achieve their goals in life, who are increasingly wary of and disillusioned with the jobs market and at risk of leaving a wealth of untapped potential in their wake.“One of the most important things we can do to stem this flow is to show young people that it’s worth having high aspirations, that opportunities to earn a good living and progress in a career are out there and that they’ll be supported along the way to live, learn and earn.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more