It is relatively simple. The program outlined in the bill is similar to the Quebec program, for instance in clause 6, which refers to a doctor's certificate, and reassignment.
As you said, the first step is that the woman must be followed by a physician during her pregnancy. If her doctor thinks that her work may present a risk, the physician will contact the public health branch which has offices in all of the regions. He will consult a specialist in that area. That doctor will assess the risks related to the woman's profession. For instance, welders have been the object of considerable study. If a female welder is in a job that respects the prevention standards in effect in Quebec, the business she works for is already known and environmental analyses will have been done. The doctor will be able to use that data to find out which products that worker is exposed to, and to see whether this presents a danger to her pregnancy or to the unborn child. So there are specific analyses. If none have been done in that particular business, in a few days, or very quickly, technicians or analysts will be sent to perform those analyses in the workplace.
Once the position has been analyzed, the specialist will recommend to the attending physician that a preventive withdrawal be authorized, or not, from a given week of the pregnancy. Will the withdrawal take place immediately, or later? The physician will issue a certificate. The worker will present it to her employer, who will decide whether he can modify her position to eliminate the risks. If not, the worker will be assigned to other duties where she will not be exposed to the danger. If the employer cannot do so, or does not want to—he is not obliged to do so—the worker will stop working and will receive benefits from the CNESST. The compensation is equivalent to 90% of her net salary, and is not taxable. It will not reduce the parental or maternity benefits she could be entitled to in the future.
I do want to point out that among the preventive withdrawals that are accepted, less than half are complete work withdrawals. About one quarter are reassignments. The worker will continue to work in a modified position, or in another one. For about another quarter of these withdrawals, the workers will be reassigned for a certain period before a total withdrawal. Not all workers totally withdraw from the workplace. It depends. The bill under study refers to the last 15 weeks of pregnancy. In Quebec, 95% of preventive withdrawals are granted before that. We have to assess the risk when it is present. Take the example of the bacteriological risks in a measles epidemic. If some of the workers in children's hospitals and day cares are not immunized, we have to react immediately. We cannot wait 15 weeks before the end of the pregnancy. It would be too late.