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USW issues statement on Detour Gold charge

Union says it will be closely watching how the case is prosecuted
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TORONTO - The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes criminal charges laid against Detour Gold for the June 2015 death of a worker at its Cochrane, Ont., mine and hopes that the charges will be prosecuted as soon as possible, says USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

"These charges validate our union's campaign for better enforcement of the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code," said Warren, adding that the Detour Gold mine is not unionized.

"We lobbied to have the law enacted more than a decade ago, with the intent that corporate directors and executives would ultimately be held criminally accountable for workplace death and injury."

"Without a union at this mine, the USW is missing crucial details on the circumstances in this tragedy. We want to know whether corporate directors and executives will be included in any prosecution," said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

Neumann noted that many police officers in Canada are still not directed or trained to properly enforce the Westray Law.

The USW national campaign Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law continues to receive endorsements from municipalities across the country calling on provincial and territorial governments, specifically attorneys general and labour ministers, to ensure that:

  • Crown attorneys are educated, trained and directed to apply the Westray amendments;
  • dedicated prosecutors are given the responsibility for health and safety fatalities;
  • police are educated, trained and directed to apply the Westray amendments;
  • and there is greater coordination among regulators, police and Crowns so that health and safety regulators are trained to reach out to police when there is a possibility that Westray amendment charges are warranted.

"Approximately 1,000 workers are killed each year in Canada," said Neumann. "And those who control operations from the top continue to be excused with fines. Killing workers should never be simply a cost of doing business in Canada."