Small businesses to receive funding for new training

Small business operators in Ontario will receive an additional $10.5 million for health-and-safety training over the next three years. Government officials were in Waterloo July 15 to make the announcement.

Joining Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton at the Brittles n More & The Fudgery Shoppe in Waterloo were Lynn Brownell, president and CEO of Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris and his Kitchener South-Hespeler colleague Amy Fee.

Some 60,000 small businesses across the province will have access to free health and safety training programs. The aim is to prevent illnesses and injuries through the training of small business health and safety representatives in the retail, construction, health care, accommodation and food services, among other sectors.

Leah McEachern, whose father started Brittles ’n More & The Fudgery Shoppe more than 29 years ago, spoke at last week’s gathering.

“Health and safety has always been a priority to our business and to the staff, especially for the past year during COVID-19.

“As a small business, illness or injury would have a major impact on our operations as we rely on all of our employees as a team to keep production running seamlessly,” she said.

The funding will cover the course registration costs for an employee who is appointed by their colleagues as a health and safety representative for their workplace. The program will also reimburse small businesses $150 towards the representative’s training time. Every small business that has at least six to 19 employees are required to have at least one health and safety representative, and the province has opened up the program to all of them.

“I know and we know that the pandemic has been particularly challenging for small business owners and their workers,” said McNaughton. “Learning health and safety rules and then training others on them isn’t an easy task. In a small operation you don’t have the resources of a corporate health and safety team that the bigger players do. That’s why we’re giving these merchants and shopkeepers a well deserved handout.”

Training will be provided to health and safety representatives through an eLearning course offered by the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services. On average, the course will take six to eight hours for most people to complete. Students will be taught a range of topics including occupational health and safety laws, rights, duties and responsibilities of workplace parties and recognition, assessment, control and evaluation of common workplace hazards.

“One workplace injury is one too many,” said Harris. “This new small business health and safety training program will make a real difference in relieving [financial] pressures on small business owners, while ensuring their staff are properly informed about health and safety in the workplace.”

Eligible businesses looking to register for the free training must access the course through the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services website. Once the candidate has completed the training, applicants should keep a copy of the certificate of completion to be used as proof for their course fee refund and $150 worker time reimbursement.

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