Baltej Singh Dhillon, a highly respected police officer from Canada, has made history by becoming the first South Asian chair of WorkSafeBC’s board of directors in British Columbia. Dhillon, who was a key member of the team that investigated the 1985 Kanishka Air India terror attack, has been appointed to this prestigious position for a three-year term, commencing on June 30. This appointment is a significant milestone, as Dhillon is not only an advocate for safe and healthy workplaces but also the first Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer to wear a turban as part of the uniform.
WorkSafeBC is a vital provincial agency responsible for promoting and ensuring the well-being of workers and safe working environments throughout British Columbia. The appointment of Dhillon as the chair reflects the province’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equal representation.
Dhillon’s journey to this prominent role has been remarkable. Born and raised in Punjab, India, he immigrated to Canada with his family in the early 1980s. Determined to serve the community, Dhillon joined the RCMP in 1991, aspiring to bridge cultural gaps and break down barriers within law enforcement. At that time, the RCMP did not allow officers to wear religious symbols, including turbans. However, Dhillon persisted, challenging the policy and advocating for the right to wear his turban while on duty.
His efforts paid off in 1996 when the RCMP announced a landmark decision to allow Sikh officers to wear turbans as part of their uniform. This groundbreaking change not only paved the way for greater religious accommodation within the RCMP but also set a precedent for diversity and inclusion in law enforcement agencies across Canada.
Throughout his distinguished career, Dhillon has been committed to public safety and community engagement. His experience as an investigator in the Air India bombing case, one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Canadian history, has provided him with invaluable insights into the importance of preventive measures and maintaining safe workplaces.
As a member of WorkSafeBC’s board of directors since 2017, Dhillon has already been actively involved in shaping policies and initiatives to promote worker safety and well-being. His elevation to the position of chair is a testament to his dedication and expertise in the field.
In his new role, Dhillon will lead the board in its mission to create safer work environments, reduce workplace injuries, and support injured workers in their recovery and return to work. WorkSafeBC’s initiatives encompass a wide range of industries, including construction, manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation, ensuring that all workers across the province are protected.
Dhillon’s appointment has been met with widespread acclaim and serves as an inspiration for individuals from diverse backgrounds aspiring to make a difference in their respective fields. It highlights the progress that has been made in breaking down barriers and fostering inclusivity within institutions.
The British Columbia government, in announcing Dhillon’s appointment, has recognized his significant contributions to public service and his unwavering dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of workers. Dhillon’s diverse background, coupled with his expertise and leadership skills, makes him an ideal candidate to lead WorkSafeBC in its ongoing efforts to create a culture of safety and health in workplaces across the province.
As the first South Asian chair of WorkSafeBC, Baltej Singh Dhillon will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact, not only within the organization but also on the broader community. His appointment sends a powerful message of inclusivity and sets a positive precedent for future leaders to embrace diversity, equality, and the promotion of safe and healthy workplaces.