DAY OF MOURNING: WORKPLACE NEGLIGENCE MUST BE PROSECUTED

NDP Critic for Labour, Sheri Benson (Saskatoon West), made the following statement on the National Day of Mourning: 

“Today, as Canadians come together to remember and honour workers injured or killed on the job, we are reminded that we also have a duty to work towards preventing future accidents, illness and fatalities.

Too many workers are hurt, maimed, or become ill because of their jobs. Some pay the ultimate price and never return home.

On May 9, 1992, an explosion at the Westray Mine in Pictou County, Nova Scotia killed all 26 miners working underground that morning. Despite years of police investigations and a public enquiry, no one was ultimately held responsible for the deaths of these workers.

The United Steelworkers worked tirelessly to seek justice for Westray families, and in 2003, Parliament unanimously passed the Westray Law, which allowed for the prosecution of corporations for negligence leading to workplace deaths.

Since then, there have only been a handful of charges and just one prison sentence resulting from the Westray Law, despite almost 1000 workplace deaths every year.

There will never be justice for all those families grieving for a loved one killed at work, until workplace deaths are properly investigated, charges laid and those responsible prosecuted under the law.

On the 25th anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster, we must continue to fight for the living. New Democrats are calling on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to collaborate on an urgent action plan to ensure better training and coordination for regulators, prosecutors and police about the Westray Law.

Canadian workers deserve protection on the job, and their loved ones deserve justice.”