Sharing news that SHCA members need to know

WCB releases 2023 provincial workplace injury statistics

The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) released the 2023 provincial workplace injury statistics in mid-March. The Total injury rate for 2023 was 3.95 per 100 workers, an almost nine per cent decrease from 2022. From 2009 to 2023, the WCB’s total injury rate has decreased by 57.62 per cent. The 2023 total injury rate is the lowest in the province’s recorded history.

“Through the WorkSafe Saskatchewan partnership with the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, as a province, we are on the right track as we see our total and time loss injury rates continue to come down,” said Gord Dobrowolsky, chair of the WCB. “This is thanks to the combined efforts of workers, employers, our safety associations, safety leaders across the province and labour, including the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and Saskatchewan Building Trades. But even one injury is too many, so there is still much to do to ensure that every worker in Saskatchewan is able to come home safely at the end of the day.”

For the fourth year in a row, 90 per cent of Saskatchewan workplaces had zero fatalities and zero injuries. In addition to the total injury rate decrease in 2023, the time loss injury rate also dropped to 1.78 per 100 workers. This represents a decrease of 12.75 per cent from the 2022 rate of 2.04 per 100 workers.

“An almost 13 per cent decrease in the time loss injury rate is certainly significant for 2023,” said Phillip Germain, CEO of the WCB. “While we are moving in a positive direction, we all need to continue prioritizing workplace safety to drive our rates even lower.”

Saskatchewan’s time loss injury rate is fourth among Canadian provinces.

“We believe every workplace incident is preventable, and serious injuries represent approximately 11 to 14 per cent of our total claims,” said Germain. “Serious injuries account for more than 80 per cent of our claim costs in the province’s compensation system each year. We will not rest until Saskatchewan records no workplace fatalities and the lowest serious injury rate in Canada. We believe we are on the right track to get there.”

Last year, WorkSafe Saskatchewan, a partnership between the WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, launched the 2023-2028 Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy. Building on the success of the first strategy, this document lays out a new approach to fatalities and serious injuries in Saskatchewan’s workplaces. The strategy is a multi-year plan that uses customer feedback and engagement, as well as claim and injury data. It outlines two key streams of work from the WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety to reduce serious injuries and fatalities – a regulatory and enforcement stream, and a prevention and learning stream.

“The WorkSafe Saskatchewan partnership is committed to continuing to bring our injury and fatalities rates down, and keeping all workers safe on the job,” said Germain.

In 2023:

Total claims accepted decreased by 6.80 per cent to 16,143 from 17,321 in 2022. The total number of workers covered increased to 409,158 in 2023 from 400,392 the previous year.

Accepted no time loss claims decreased to 8,870 in 2023 from 9,156 in 2022.

Accepted time loss claims (excluding current-year fatalities) decreased to 7,256 from 8,148 in 2022.

There were 29 workplace fatalities in 2023 compared to 39 in 2022. This is a decrease of 25.64 per cent. These deaths occurred in a variety of Saskatchewan industries. Of the 29 fatalities in 2023, 10 were due to occupational disease (five of which resulted from exposure to asbestos), and nine were due to motor vehicle collisions. The remaining 10 fatalities resulted from medical complications due to workplace injuries, and from heart attacks and traumatic events.

“Each of these fatalities represent spouses, children, families, workplaces and communities who have been tragically impacted by these losses,” said Dobrowolsky. “We need to remember the 29 workers in our province who lost their lives because of a work-related injury last year. To honour their memories, we all must intensify our efforts to make every workplace safe from injuries and fatalities.”

Saskatchewan invests $248,000 toward women in trades

At the end of March, the Government of Saskatchewan announced a partnership with Women Building Futures to support the Journey to Trades pre-employment program that will provide women with the skills they need to start their careers in the construction trades and embark on apprenticeship.

“This investment in skills training will further support Saskatchewan’s Labour Market Strategy by ensuring residents have every opportunity to benefit from the jobs our rapidly-growing economy is creating,” Immigration and Career Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “This partnership with Women Building Futures will provide the opportunity for women to gain first-hand experience in the skilled trades and take advantage of the in-demand jobs being created in the construction and maintenance industries.”  

The Ministry of Immigration and Career Training is investing $248,000 into the Journey to Trades program, which will support 18 participants over the next year. The program takes place in Regina, and will run for 12 weeks. Students will participate in classroom learning and receive hands-on skills development that will enable them to gain employment in entry-level positions. 

“At Women Building Futures, we recognize the need to eliminate barriers for women and under-represented groups, so they can get into resilient careers that pay higher than a living wage,” said Carol Moen, president and CEO of Women Building Futures. “We help them build the skills and confidence they need to succeed and then connect our graduates with industry partners who nurture safe, equitable workplaces for women. With this investment, we are excited to grow our impact in Saskatchewan, supporting more unemployed and underemployed women on their paths to economic security.”

The Journey to Trades program will be delivered through Women Building Futures, an organization that empowers women to explore careers by providing training and supports. This collaboration provides women in the skilled trades with skills training and work experience.

Editor’s note: Turn to page 38 for an in-depth look at Women Building Futures’ expansion into Saskatchewan.

SARM responds to the 2024-25 provincial budget announcement

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), alongside their member RMs, emphasizes both highlights and concerns regarding rural communities across the province in this year’s provincial budget.

“[This year’s] budget includes many priorities that our members have been asking for. Although not perfect, we feel items in this budget go a long way to support our RMs and the people who live in rural Saskatchewan,” said Ray Orb, SARM president.

SARM is pleased with the increase, recognizing that RMs are a key component in driving Saskatchewan’s economy. “More funding is always welcome. RMs have a responsibility to provide a level of service and infrastructure expected by the major sectors driving Saskatchewan’s economy,” said Orb.

The municipal revenue sharing model is unique to Saskatchewan and SARM is pleased with the increased dollars being invested by the province. This funding goes a long way to supporting RMs in the future.

Agriculture is the backbone of rural Saskatchewan and SARM is pleased with the record investment in the Ministry of Agriculture this year. Key asks from SARM, such as increased Business Risk Management Programs funding, increased investment in weather stations for data collection and the commitment to irrigation are all being addressed, and SARM supports the direction the province is taking in these critical areas.

SARM has been advocating for the launch of the water management infrastructure known as the Lake Diefenbaker irrigation project. This project has been in the making for a long time and will positively impact RMs into the future, increasing crop diversity and farm profitability through irrigation.

“We appreciate the government’s recognition of the importance of this project,” said Orb. “Irrigation is a key component to economic growth in rural Saskatchewan and this project will go far in supporting that.”

Funding for rural road and bridge infrastructure is imperative for RMs to continue to provide key economic sectors with a strategic transportation network that is effective and well maintained.

While there is a modest increase in funding for the Rural Integrated Roads for Growth program, the challenges and expenses of maintaining critical rural infrastructure continue to rise and there are concerns regarding the level of investment in vital services such as roads and infrastructure. With the current inflation and the vast inventory of rural infrastructure, RMs will require stronger support going forward. SARM will continue to ask for more funding to allow RMs to renew and maintain rural roads.

“While we recognize the challenges in balancing various priorities within budget constraints, we urge the government to ensure RMs have sufficient funding to maintain critical rural infrastructure across the province,” Orb said.

Company fined $70,000 for serious workplace injury

On March 13, 2024, Sunterra Horticulture (Canada) Inc. pleaded guilty in Yorkton Provincial Court to one violation of The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020.

The company was fined for contravening clause 3-1 (a) of the regulations (being an employer at a place of employment, failure to provide and maintain plant, systems of work and working environments that ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of the employer’s workers, resulting in the serious injury of a worker). As a result, the court imposed a fine of $50,000 with a surcharge of $20,000, for a total amount of $70,000.

One additional charge was withdrawn.

The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on September 16, 2021, near Hyas, Sask., where a worker was seriously injured while attempting to dislodge a pallet and bale of peat moss.

Recognizing excellence in construction: Meet the recipients of CCA’s 2023 National Awards

Sponsored by Northbridge Insurance, CCA’s National Awards ceremony was held on March 14, 2024, in conjunction with the Annual Conference in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. From innovation and environmental achievement to community leadership, world-class safety and workforce excellence, the recipients represent the industry’s best and brightest.

Congratulations to the following individuals, companies or associations for their exceptional contributions to the Canadian construction industry.

Ledcor Group of Companies, CCA 2023 Community Leader Award – sponsored by Marsh Canada Limited

Ledcor has been named one of two recipients of CCA’s Community Leader Award. The collective mission shared by Ledcor’s employees is encapsulated in the phrase “Ledcor Cares,” a testament to their commitment to community well-being and making a positive impact.

Vancouver Island Construction Association, CCA 2023 Community Leader Award – sponsored by Marsh Canada Limited

Emerging as a central force addressing substance use and overdose deaths with a groundbreaking toolkit, VICA has been named one of two recipients of CCA’s Community Leader Award.

Giatec, CCA 2023 Environmental Achievement Award – sponsored by Victaulic

Giatec was recognized for their innovative approach to sustainability. SmartMix is an AI platform that empowers ready-mix concrete producers to analyze data points across their operations efficiently, optimizing mixes for cost, cement usage and carbon dioxide emissions.

Ledcor Pipeline Ltd., CCA 2023 Excellence in Innovation Award – sponsored by Intact Surety

For their Canadian adaption of new methodology for steep slope pipeline installation, Ledcor Pipeline Ltd. was honoured with the 2023 Excellence in Innovation Award.

Kinetic Construction, CCA 2023 Gold Seal Award – sponsored by Travelers Canada

For their ongoing commitment to excellence and education, Kinetic was recognized with the CCA 2023 Gold Seal Award. A staunch supporter of Gold Seal since its inception, Kinetic has celebrated countless employees’ journeys to certification.

Graham Group, CCA 2023 National Safety Award – sponsored by Vipond Inc.

The 2023 CCA National Safety Award recognized the Graham Group for their outstanding overall approach to and success in the areas of health and safety. Actively Caring is one such example of a Graham program designed to cultivate a culture where people are actively looking out for others with courage and compassion.

Construction Association of Nova Scotia, CCA 2023 Partner Association Award

The Construction Association of Nova Scotia (CANS) is the 2023 recipient of CCA’s Partner Association Award. CANS continues to focus on building a resilient, skilled and innovative future for the construction industry in Nova Scotia through education, advocacy and industry collaboration.

Dave Filipchuk, CCA 2023 Pinnacle Leader Award – sponsored by PCL Construction

The CCA 2023 Pinnacle Leader Award recognized Dave Filipchuk. His achievements are reflected not only in his firm’s success and growth, but also in his leadership, dedication to excellence and community contributions, which position him as an exceptional leader, partner and example to all.

Ledcor Group of Companies, CCA 2023 Workforce Excellence Award – sponsored by Raise Underwriting

Underwriting for their ongoing efforts to continuously improve upon their employees’ experiences, and their commitment to a diverse and equitable workplace, Ledcor was presented with the CCA 2023 Workforce Excellence Award. Ledcor uses the phrase “True Blue” to describe its values-driven approach.

Ryan Davis, CCA 2023 Young Leader Award – sponsored by McMillan LLP

Through his impressive portfolio, his dedication to continuing education and his community spirit, Ryan Davis stands as an exemplary leader in his field and was recognized with the CCA 2023 Young Leader Award.

These recipients are raising the bar for the industry. Congratulations to all who were recognized for their outstanding achievements.