Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

May 26, 2015 07:00 ET

OFL Request Causes OPP to Consider New Charges Against Orillia-Area Contractor for Workplace Fatality

Weekend mining death near Timmins reinvigorates call for criminal investigations

ATTENTION: Assignment Editors for Parry Sound, Algonquin, Timmins & Queen's Park

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 26, 2015) - The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is calling on police and crown attorneys across Ontario to become more vigilant in pursuing criminal convictions of employers found guilty of negligence leading to workplace fatalities. In a response received from the OPP Detachment in Almaguin Highlands, Staff Sergeant D.S. (Stacey) Whaley assured OFL President Sid Ryan that his Area Crime Supervisor would be reviewing a 2013 investigation into a worker's death at the Ontario Graphite Ltd. Mill site near Kearney, Ontario. This was welcomed news, especially in light of a tragic weekend mine disaster that claimed the life of a 22 year old woman working at the Holt Mine near Timmins, Ontario.

"Our hearts go out to the family of this young woman who died underground," said Ryan. "It is too soon to speculate as to the cause of her death, but it is a grim reminder that every worker who is killed on the job deserves the full attention of the law."

On May 12, 2015, a Parry Sound court fined GRC Contracting $90,000 for Occupational Health and Safety Act violations that led directly to the 2013 death of a worker who fell through a roof while wearing a body harness that was not attached to a fall arrest system. In it's ruling, the court found that "three days prior to the incident, GRC had been warned by the constructor about ensuring fall arrest was worn by workers." In light of this evidence, Ryan wrote to the local OPP detachment in Almaguin Highlands to ask the force to take a second look at the case through the lens of Bill C-45 amendments to the Criminal Code that allow employers to be held criminally liable for negligence causing workplace deaths. Sergeant Whaley responded with an assurance that the case will be reviewed.

"We are very pleased that the Almaguin Highlands police have responded to our request to give this case a second look, but we need a radical shift in perspective from police and crown attorneys across the province," said Ryan. "It has been 11 years since labour unions won historic changes to the Criminal Code that made it possible to convict employers for killing workers and, to date, not one has served a prison sentence."

On Saturday, May 23, 2015, an underground rail haulage accident claimed the life of Alexie Dallaire-Vincent, a 22-year-old miner at St. Andrew Goldfields' Holt Mine located near Black River-Matheson, about 125-km east of Timmins. This is the second fatal accident at the Holt Mine site in less than a year and one of more than 80 workers who die horribly each year in traumatic on-the-job accidents, another 200 die a slow, agonizing death from occupational diseases and over 200,000 more are maimed at work. Between 2008 and 2013, there was an alarming 36 percent increase in workplace fatalities.

The OFL wrote to the OPP Detachment in Matheson to call for a full criminal investigation into the death of Dallaire-Vincent, in light of the Bill C-45. Letters were also written to the Attorney General and the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, to request special meetings aimed at developing new protocols and training for crown attorneys and police forces across the province.

"The families of every fallen worker deserve to know the police have done more than rule out foul play. They must investigate employer negligence as a possible cause. After all, when criminal negligence results in a worker's death, it is a crime, not an accident," said Ryan. "The carnage in our workplaces will never stop until negligent bosses are marched out of their executive offices in handcuffs."

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.

Contact Information

  • Sid Ryan
    OFL President
    416-209-0066
    @SidRyan_OFL

    Joel Duff
    OFL Communications Director
    416-707-0349
    jduff@ofl.ca