Mining and forestry workers in northern Ontario will get mental health training and resources under a new government initiative.
The Province will spend $1.7 million to support Workplace Safety North (WSN) in developing and delivering the plan.
This funding follows nearly $8 million the province used to bolster WSN’s Ontario Mine Rescue program, which coordinated the successful rescue of all 39 miners stuck underground in Sudbury this past September.
“Our miners and forestry workers operate in challenging environments day-in and day-out to deliver materials that communities across Ontario rely on,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “While these jobs provide rewarding, meaningful careers, we need to acknowledge the mental toll they can take. Every worker, no matter the profession, needs to know that help is always a phone call away.”
Research shows mining and forestry workers are at higher risk of experiencing anxiety, stress, and depression.
"To address this, Workplace Safety North has developed a three-year program that will deliver in-person and online training for mining and forestry operations and improve mental health outcomes for workers in the industry. As part of the project, workers and employers will have 24/7 support, including an online portal with mental health tools and free resources and awareness sessions for small businesses," says a government news release.
“Based on the effects of the pandemic on mental health in the workplace and at home, workplace mental health needs to be at the forefront of Ontario workplace safety,” said Paul Andre, President of Workplace Safety North (WSN). “That is why WSN has a team of accredited Psychological Health and Safety Advisors available to consult with clients and help create psychologically safe and healthy workplaces. This funding will help us expand critical resources and support to workers who need it most.”
"These services will help reduce the stigma associated with mental health challenges so that workers can ask for support when they need it. This is especially important in the mining and forestry sectors, where mental health and psychological concerns can be left unaddressed," continues the release.
As an independent not-for-profit, Workplace Safety North is one of four sector-based health and safety associations in Ontario. They provide specialized occupational health and safety services such as health and safety certification programs and on-site audits to mining and forestry workplaces in remote areas of the province.
There are currently 23,900 full-time workers in the Ontario mining sector and 57,400 full-time workers in the Ontario forestry, paper, and printing sector.
New 'Mental Health Safety Talks' video series includes a set of seven pre-recorded 15-minute talks on topics such as stress, stigma, anxiety, and youth, the importance of having conversations, and a general overview of mental health, mental illness, and mental harm.