Halifax (11 Sept. 2015) — The first-ever charge has been laid against an employer under Bill 45, better known as the Westray Bill, in Nova Scotia. The law came into effect as a result of a massive underground mine explosion in 1992 that killed 26 men.
After the explosion, the labour movement pressured Parliament to pass legislation that amended the Criminal Code of Canada to hold criminally liable employers who failed to take steps to protect the lives of their employees. The Westray Bill provided a new regime outlining the framework of corporate liability in Canada.
Nothing can bring back those who have died," said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), "but a message has to be sent that cutting corners on health and safety, and employees being killed, is not acceptable."
Owner held responsible for death of mechanic in 2013 and multiple health and safety violations
The RCMP has charged the owner of an auto repair shop in Nova Scotia with criminal negligence causing death, stemming from an incident in 2013. Peter Kempton, a mechanic employed by Your Mechanic Auto Corner, was dismantling a minivan when it caught on fire and exploded.
The owner is also facing 12 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including failing to ensure the health of people at or near the workplace, and failing to provide and maintain equipment, machines and materials that are properly equipped with safety devices.
The business had been operating for the last seven years but had never been inspected by provincial labour investigators. It closed up shop last year.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 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