Panel should also review ministry’s oversight capacity says union.
Vancouver (20 Aug. 2014)—The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) issued a statement supporting an independent third party investigation into the Mount Polley mine disaster today, and urged the expert panel to consider the impact of staffing cuts on the ministry’s ability to provide oversight of industry.
Need for open and transparent process
“The BCGEU welcomes an independent third party investigation of the Mount Polley disaster,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “The public and our members need to know that the process will be open, transparent and fair.
“We are also encouraged that the dam safety inspections ordered by government will now require an independent third party review process. Until today, there has been no requirement for an independent review of these industry-created safety reports.”
Cuts have left fewer staff in resource ministries to monitor and inspect sites
Deep cuts to government services beginning in 2002 resulted in steep declines in inspections, compliance and enforcement. Since 2000, Ministry of Energy and Mines staffing levels have dropped by more than 36 per cent.
“Our members do an incredible job with very limited resources,” said Smith. “Even the minister himself noted that staffing levels in resource ministries are inadequate to properly serve the public.”
In 2010, Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines, was quoted saying, “The fundamental problem facing the natural resource ministries is they’re underfunded. We work the heck out of them [the employees] and we don’t have enough funds... to do the work that actually leads to the majority of revenue that comes into government.”
The BCGEU, which represents Ministry of Energy and Mines workers, will provide on going representation and support for members affected by the investigation.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE