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Although some employer and union respondents did not place significant emphasis on government's responsibility to ensure the agency meets its accountability expectations, WHSCC and government respondents recognized this role.
The responses of government and WHSCC executives lend support to Stewart's claim that accountability is a relationship or a bond, linking the "accountor" with the "accountee" (1984).
Although the relationship between the agency and government was not specified in legislation, two WHSCC officials believe it plays a critical role in the accountability process.
One WHSCC executive suggested that this could be accomplished by government soliciting suggestions for board candidates from the employer and union stakeholder groups.
The committee conducts an independent review of the WHSCC's legislation, policies and operations to make recommendations for changes.
Overall, on a national level, there have been significant improvements in WCB accountability to government in the past decade Statutory review was the main mechanism currently utilized for a broadbased independent evaluation of the WHSCC and was regarded by two agency officials as an excellent accountability tool.
In 2001, the Newfoundland government replaced the usual Statutory Review Committee, on a one-time basis, with a task force because the WHSCC was facing a serious financial situation.
Clearly, WHSCC social partners, employers and workers are now expected to play a pivotal role in prevention, safety and return-to-work programs.
Indeed, the Newfoundland case study shows that employers and trade unions believed that the WHSCC should be held more accountable to them than to government.
Although the Newfoundland WHSCC had a strategic plan and submitted it to the minister, stakeholders did not have the degree of involvement they would have liked in developing the plan and its targets.
Perhaps government should ensure agencies such as the WHSCC are accountable to stakeholders by soliciting stakeholder input for selection of board members and requiring board consultation with its main stakeholder groups.
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