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Canadian Public Health Association

Milestones: safer workplaces

1889 - The federal government establishes the Royal Commission on the Relations of Labour and Capital. In its report, the commission notes that many workers were being hurt on the job. It condemns oppressive working conditions in many industries. The commission makes a string of recommendations to improve working conditions - but the federal government does not act on them, saying to do so would infringe on provincial authority.

1899 - The Public Works Health Act of Canada is passed, regulating the supervision of health and safety of federal Public Works employees.

1914 - The Ontario Workmen's Compensation Act was the first Canadian statute to accept the principle that some level of injury is inevitable and that compensation should be provided without regard to responsibility.

1919 - A six-week general strike began in Winnipeg in support of striking workers in building and metal trades.

1934 - The Canadian Institute of Sanitary Inspectors is incorporated under federal charter.

1968 - The Canada Labour (Safety) Code goes into effect, giving federal legislative authority for regulating industries.

1972 - Saskatchewan passes the Occupational Health Act, considered the first legislation of its kind in North America.

1976 - The Report of the Royal Commission on the Health and Safety of Workers in Mines (The Ham Report) is published and has a significant impact on occupational health and safety.

1978 - The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety was created by an Act of Parliament, based on the belief that all Canadians had "...a fundamental right to a healthy and safe working environment".

1988 - The federal Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) comes into force to identify hazards in the workplace and inform and train workers about how to deal with them.

1988 - Bill C-201 restricting smoking in federal workplaces and on planes, trains and boats was passed.