·  Media release

Time for provinces to enforce laws to "Stop the Killing"

BANFF, AB - Leaders of the United Steelworkers (USW) say the campaign to stop workplace killing through better enforcement of 2003 amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada has gained momentum now that it has been raised with federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers, meeting here this week.

"Since it became clear that the amendments holding corporations, their directors and executives criminally accountable for workplace death and injury were not being enforced, the campaign to save lives became one of convincing provincial and territorial attorneys-general to get the job done," said USW National Director Ken Neumann.  "That means they must direct police and Crown attorneys in their jurisdictions to investigate and prosecute workplace death and injury as they would any potential crime scene."

Neumann said a meeting he and USW Western Canada Director Steve Hunt had last spring with Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay ended with MacKay's commitment to have the issue raised at the annual Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FTP) meeting of justice ministers, which ended here Friday.

MacKay was instrumental a decade ago in ensuring unanimous support in the House of Commons for what was known then as the Westray Bill.  The Westray amendments to the Criminal Code arose out of recommendations by Justice Peter Richard and the inquiry into the 1992 explosion of the Westray Coal Mine, in MacKay's Nova Scotia riding.

Neumann said union representatives made it known that they were available in Banff throughout the three-day meeting to provide information to federal, provincial and territorial politicians, along with an update of the USW's campaign, launched in the Fall of 2013, to 'Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law'.

"After more than a decade, and thousands of workplace deaths, only a handful of Criminal Code charges have been laid," he said.  "And not a single boss has spent time in jail for their crimes.  For families, fines are not enough, and justice has not been served."

"More than 1,000 workers are killed each year at work," added Steve Hunt. "Corporations must be held criminally accountable."

Neumann and Hunt vow that the USW will continue the campaign for enforcement until there is clear direction to enforce the Westray amendments and there is better coordination between law enforcement and regulations found in occupational health and safety law.

"Until that time, we will continue to expose the injustice and cruelty that has prevented thousands of Canadian families from moving forward with their lives after a workplace death," Hunt said.

"The tears will not stop, but neither will our determination to see justice done and seen to be done."

Information about the campaign can be found at www.stopthekilling.ca or www.usw.ca.


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For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Steve Hunt, USW Western Canada Director, 604-683-1117
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, bgallagher@usw.ca

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