Union pushes for greater enforcement of Criminal Code provision enacted in wake of Westray mine disaster
SUDBURY, Ont. (CNW Group) - The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes criminal charges against a Sudbury company and its owner in relation to a worker's death in 2017.
"The criminal investigation and charges validate our union's campaign for greater enforcement of the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code. We hope the charges will be prosecuted as soon as possible," said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.
"We have lobbied for several years for stronger enforcement of the 2004 Westray Law that was intended to hold corporate directors, executives and managers criminally accountable for workplace death and injury," Warren said.
Rheal Dionne, 39, an employee of Rainbow Concrete, was killed on Feb. 15, 2017, when a concrete slab fell on the dump truck he was operating, trapping him inside.
Rainbow Concrete owner Boris Naneff has been charged with criminal negligence causing death. The company also faces the same Criminal Code charge.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour has laid 12 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act against Rainbow Concrete, its owners and two supervisors in relation to the fatality.
Rheal Dionne is survived by his wife and their son, as well as his parents. Rheal's father Julien Dionne is a retired USW member in Sudbury who was a lifelong workplace health and safety activist.
USW Local 6500 in Sudbury has been supporting the Dionne family and has offered representation to the family for the criminal prosecution process. The union also has worked with Sudbury police on awareness and training issues related to the Westray Law.
"We commend the Greater Sudbury Police Service for conducting a criminal investigation into this tragedy and for proceeding with Criminal Code charges," said USW National Director Ken Neumann.
"There have been more than 10,000 workplace-related deaths in Canada since the Westray Act was enacted and there have been very few criminal convictions and even fewer jail sentences for employers responsible for these deaths," Neumann noted.
"Unfortunately, police officers in Canada are still not trained and directed to properly enforce the Westray Law. Our union and many allies across the country will continue with our national campaign to demand that the Westray Law is enforced to the greatest extent possible," he added.
The USW campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, calls on provincial and territorial governments to implement specific measures to ensure greater enforcement of the Westray Law. For details on the campaign, visit www.stopthekilling.ca.
The USW also is calling on the new Government of Ontario to do more to hold companies and their directors accountable for workplace death and injury.
"The Premier and his Attorney General and Labour Minister must initiate protocols and training for prosecutors and law enforcement to ensure enforcement of the Westray Law. These are critical investments that are needed to ensure safe and healthy workplaces in Ontario," Warren said.
"The Ontario government must step up and enforce the law – for the people."
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)