Province Starts to Enforce Law on Criminal Liability in Job Accidents
Rabson, Mia, Winnipeg Free Press
OTTAWA -- The provincial government is taking steps to start enforcing a federal law holding employers criminally responsible for workplace accidents.
Labour Minister Jennifer Howard and Justice Minister Andrew Swan told the Manitoba Federation of Labour last week the government has hired a new director of investigations. Among his missions is to sit down with police, prosecutors and workplace investigators to clarify roles in the event of a workplace accident. He is also reviewing all policies to ensure factors of criminal negligence are addressed during investigations.
MFL president Kevin Rebeck said it's a sign the province may finally be ready to enforce a nine-year-old federal law known as the Westray bill.
The bill was named after the Westray mine disaster in Nova Scotia. Last Wednesday, May 9, marked the 20th anniversary of the explosion, which killed 26 miners.
The bill passed in 2003 with support of all parties.
It has been used only six times since, and never in Manitoba, Rebeck said.
The Westray explosion was caused by a buildup of methane gas. Investigations later proved mismanagement and incompetence led to the disaster. Manslaughter and criminal negligence charges were initially brought against the company and two managers but were later dropped.
The Westray bill allows employers who don't take proper safety precautions to be charged criminally in a workplace fatality. …