CBC Report on Ottawa Fatality and Criminal Investigation Shows Progress, Say Steelworkers

TORONTO – A CBC report into the launching of a criminal investigation into a workplace fatality earlier this year in Ottawa is proof that a campaign led by the United Steelworkers (USW) is making slow but steady progress toward proper enforcement of the 2004 Westray Law.

“The death of Olivier Bruneau appears to be both predictable and preventable,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann. “The possibility of criminal negligence must be thoroughly considered, but is no consolation to a grieving family. Our anger is mixed with condolences and a desire for justice.

“The goals of our union’s campaign to ‘Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law’ have been endorsed by municipalities across Canada, including the City of Ottawa only last week. Olivier Bruneau knew the dangers of the pit he was working in but, like many workers who warn about hazards, he was the victim of a gamble by his employer to put him at risk in an unstable icy pit.”

The USW lobbied Parliament for years leading up to the 2004 enactment of the Westray Law, which is intended to hold corporations, their directors and executives criminally accountable for workplace deaths and injury. The law was named after the 1992 explosion at the Westray Coal mine in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, that claimed 26 miners, 11 of whose bodies remain entombed in the mine. Only a park and a memorial remain on the ground above the long-abandoned mine tunnels.

“Next year marks 25 years since Westray,” said USW Ontario/Atlantic Director Marty Warren. “Our job will never be complete until there are no more Westrays, and no more deaths like that of Olivier Bruneau.” 

Details of the campaign and support are available at www.stopthekilling.ca.


For further information:

Marty Warren, USW District Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, mwarren@usw.ca, 416-243-8792
Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Sylvia Boyce, USW Health and Safety Coordinator for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, sboyce@usw.ca, 905-741-9830
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434 2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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