COVID-19: no right to refuse to work accepted to date by the CNESST

The CNESST has received “a number of complaints” from workers who claim to have fallen ill after being in contact with a person infected with the coronavirus, but to date, no decision has yet been made on these complaints .
It was the Minister of Labor and Employment, Jean Boulet, who gave this information on Wednesday, while he was participating in an exchange with the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, Michel Leblanc, in the context of the pandemic.

“We have had a number of complaints to the CNESST (Commission des normes, de l’assurance, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail) from people who say they have suffered a work accident or have developed something because of contact with an infected person, or contact with a symptomatic person or because there were work tools that were not disinfected – there, it will take the proof of a causal link – or because the no one was able to wash their hands, ”reported Minister Boulet.

However, “to date, no decision yet rendered,” he took care to add.

Right to refuse

Similarly, “many” of employees wanted to exercise their right to refuse to work, by invoking the Act respecting occupational health and safety. This allows in certain cases to do so, when a worker believes that his health or safety would be in danger.

“There are a lot of refusal rights that have been exercised under the Occupational Health and Safety Act – employees who were anxious, who said ‘me, there is a risk to my health and safety, there is another who coughs near me, there is one who is symptomatic in my environment “, therefore who claim to refuse to exercise their work, because of this perceived danger”, summed up the minister Cannonball.

Again, “I would say that to date, there is no right of refusal that has been accepted specifically because of COVID,” said the Minister of Labor.

Mr. Boulet recalled that the CNESST employs 300 investigators and that they “went to many companies” to find out the situation.

Post-training programs

On another subject, the Speaker welcomed the programs to promote employee training during the pandemic, which Minister Boulet has just announced. And he asked the minister if these could be maintained after the crisis.

“What will have been put in place and which will be justified by the economic situation, in six months, in a year, in a year and a half, well we will maintain it. And if there are adjustments to be made, we will make them, ”replied the Minister of Labor.

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