Offshore Health and Safety Act

Elizabeth May: Madam Speaker, Bill C-5 is called the offshore safety act. It amends the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act. Both of these accords require a serious overhaul in relation to their promotion of offshore petroleum development. I do not know whether the official opposition has had a chance to get a legal analysis of this.

Overall I am supportive of the bill, but the part that troubles me is that it seems to be creating new duties on employees. According to proposed section 205.026, “Every employee at a workplace…shall take all reasonable measures to protect their own health and safety….” That is certainly appropriate, but does it create a legal hurdle to an eventual court case? For instance, if we were to have a tragic replay of a helicopter crash, which I hope we never will, would the employees’ conduct and execution of due diligence in protecting their own health stand as an obstacle to their pursuing a remedy?


Matthew Dube: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question. In these situations, we are really thinking about workers’ compensation.

I am not a lawyer—that may be an answer we often hear in the House—but I know that we have conducted an analysis and that we have considered that question. For example, the hon. member for St. John’s East has done a lot of work on this file.

When a bill seeks to make things easier for workers, the main thing is that they be given better tools. The legal processes that are in place will perhaps pose certain challenges, but once again, our priority is the health and safety of workers. In this regard, we are comfortable with the content of this bill, as long as the shortcomings that I mentioned in my speech and those that will certainly be raised in committee are taken into account. For now, this bill is a step in the right direction.