News & Events

Stop the Killing campaign news clippings continued

October 25, 2017 | News Articles

Getting away with murder – book review

Sept. 19, 2018

Ron Verzuh reviewed “Hell’s History: The USW’s Fight to Prevent Workplace Deaths and Injuries from the 1992 Westray Mine Disaster Through 2016” by Tom Sandborn. In his review Ron writes:

“When it comes to workplace deaths, history keeps repeating itself — and we keep getting reminded that we need to learn from history. Writer Tom Sandborn and the health and safety conscious United Steelworkers union (USW) tell us how and why in a short book pulsating with the shocking details of the 1992 Westray Mine explosion and other preventable tragedies.”

Steelworkers union calls for criminal charges in death of Olivier Bruneau

March 8, 2017, CBC News, by Waubgeshig Rice

An influential labour union is calling on Ottawa police to lay criminal charges in the construction site death of Olivier Bruneau, just days after the Ministry of Labour announced its own charges against two companies.

A Memorandum of Understanding template between the Ontario Ministry of Labour and the Police Services Agencies

Please see the below links for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) template between the Ministry of Labour (Ontario) and Police Service Agencies. This would provide a framework for the Ministry of Labour Inspectors and Police Officers to work together where their respective responsibilities could overlap in cases of responding to a workplace fatality and/or a critical injury.

The Steelworkers maintain the view that every workplace fatality must be examined through a ‘criminal code lens’ by the police when responding to the scene of a workplace fatality and/or critical injury before commencing their investigation. The Police must consider the amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada (Westray Bill) as a first priority. This must be in addition to any other legislation and/or Provincial Act that may be appropriate. We recognize it is important that Police Officers and Ministry of Labour Inspectors are able to work cooperatively when searching for, and examining evidence and facts and/or incidents leading up to what caused the fatality or critical injury during their respective investigations.

June 9, 2015 Memorandum of Understanding 1

Memorandum of Understanding 2

Further Reading:

A Plain Language Guide to C-45

The Criminal Code of Canada (C-46)

Nova Scotia jail sentence for workplace death doesn’t go far enough

Nov. 28, 2016 USW media release

HALIFAX – While a jail sentence for a Nova Scotia employer responsible for a 2013 workplace fatality is welcome news, United Steelworkers (USW) Ontario/Atlantic Director Marty Warren cautioned that workplace fatalities must be viewed as potential crime scenes.

Campaign by Steelworkers leads to agreement with police on mining injuries and deaths

July 29, 2016, USW media release

BURNABY, B.C. – A campaign by the United Steelworkers (USW) to lobby federal, provincial and territorial governments to enforce the Westray Law in cases of employer negligence causing workplace deaths has scored a significant victory.

New Memorandum of Understanding helps police investigate work-related deaths or injuries

A new Memorandum of Understanding between the Mines and Mineral Resources Division of the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Police has been finalized. The Memorandum ensures the timely and thorough investigation of any work-related death or bodily harm. It outlines the Police’s ability to assume control of an investigation at the scene if it is deemed to be a criminal investigation, as well as co-operation and information exchange between the Police and the Chief Inspector of Mines during investigations.

Steelworkers believe that the Memorandum is a valuable tool in helping to enforce the Westray Law in B.C.

Ottawa police launch criminal probe into workplace death of Olivier Bruneau

Ottawa police have launched a criminal investigation into the workplace death of Olivier Bruneau nearly three months after the young construction worker was killed by falling ice in a deep pit in Little Italy, CBC News has learned.

The police investigation, which is separate from the workplace fatality investigation conducted by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, is probing for evidence of possible criminal negligence involved in Bruneau’s death.

Criminal charge laid in gold mining death

April 21, 2016, The Sudbury Star, by Carol Mulligan

A criminal charge against Detour Gold for the June 2015 death of a worker at its Cochrane mine validates United Steelworkers’ campaign for better enforcement of the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code, says a leader of the union.

Ontario Corporation 1909583, operating as Detour Gold Corp. of Toronto, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death in the June 3 death of Denis Millette, 52.

Renewed calls for Public Inquiry on the anniversary of Babine sawmill explosion

Jan. 20, 2016, USW media release

Vancouver – The following is a joint statement from the United Steelworkers, the BC Federation of Labour, the First Nations Summit, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the BC Assembly of First Nations marking the fourth anniversary of the Babine sawmill explosion:

“It has been four long years since the tragic explosion at the Babine Forest Products Ltd. sawmill in Burns Lake, BC on January 20, 2012, that killed Carl Charlie and Robert Luggi, and seriously injured twenty others.

And still there are important questions left unanswered.

Sarnia city council endorses call for provincial government to enforce Westray amendments

May 26, 2015, The Observer, by Barbara Simpson

Sarnia is calling on the Ontario government to enforce long-standing criminal liability legislation in the event of workplace fatalities.

City council unanimously endorsed the initiative brought forward by the United Steelworkers Monday night, adding its voice to municipal governments championing the campaign across Canada.

“Sadly, Sarnia has had its share of fatalities,” said Mark Heinle, of Sarnia’s United Steelworkers Local 14097.

A father’s grief turns to anger, and then action

Feb. 21, 2016, Vancouver Sun, by Bethany Lindsay

Sam and Arlen Fitzpatrick were born a year-and-a-half apart, but they were so close you would have thought they were twins. If you caught a glimpse of one brother, it was likely the other was right behind him. “We’re best buddies,” a four-year-old Arlen once told their dad, Brian.

And so it was no surprise that when the two little boys grew into young men, they gravitated toward the same line of work, taking risky jobs in heavy construction.

That’s how it came to pass that Arlen was working next to his older brother when a 1.5-metre-wide boulder came rolling down the slope above them, striking 24-year-old Sam head-on and ending his life.

Shirley Bond: Province has done a lot to improve workplace safety

Jan. 21, 2016, The Province, op-ed by Shirley Bond

Jan. 20 was the fourth anniversary of the sawmill explosion at Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake. I want to extend my condolences again to those who were injured and those who lost loved ones. They have shown grace and dignity during unimaginably difficult times.

I want to be clear that government is committed to doing everything it can to ensure that British Columbians have safe workplaces so they come home to their families at the end of the day. Workplace accidents are a terrible thing. No one expects to go to work and to be hurt or worse. That is why every employer has a duty to their employees to ensure safe and healthy workplaces. I fully expect WorkSafeBC to hold employers accountable when that doesn’t happen. 

Fines are not enough! Grieving families deserve criminal investigation of workplace deaths

Jan. 20, 2016, USW media release

TORONTO – A $300,000 fine imposed on a Northern Ontario mining company following a workplace fatality shows more must be done to ensure criminal investigations are considered first and foremost when a worker is killed on the job, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

Lac Des Iles Mines Ltd. has been fined $300,000 for violations of health and safety laws in the death of miner Pascal Goulet on July 10, 2014, at the company’s mine north of Thunder Bay.

Steelworkers call jail time for Metron construction manager a precedent-setting victory

Jan. 11, 2016, USW media release

TORONTO – The 3½-year jail sentence for a Metron Construction manager found guilty of criminal negligence in the 2009 deaths of four workers is a victory for advocates of corporate criminal accountability in workplace death and injury, say leaders of the United Steelworkers (USW).

“This is a Toronto story but it is a national precedent and has implications for our campaign to Stop the Killing and Enforce the Law,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann, noting that the sentence is first of its kind in Ontario.

B.C. worker death rate decreases by two-thirds

Jan. 6, 2016, The Times Colonist, by Gordon

The rate of workers being killed on the job through injury is falling in British Columbia, including in some of B.C.’s high-risk sectors such as forestry and construction.

There is no single factor for the decline, but improvements include an enhanced workplace safety culture, increases in training programs, the advent of industry safety associations and increased public scrutiny, say industry groups and the province’s chief workplace safety agency, WorkSafeBC.

Criminal charges show Steelworkers campaign to Enforce the Law is starting to work

Dec. 10, 2015, USW media release

Toronto – Criminal charges laid against a Sarnia company more than a year after the death of one worker and serious injury to five others is proof that a campaign to enforce a law passed more than a decade ago is resulting in the appropriate response by law enforcement and the courts, says Marty Warren, Ontario/Atlantic Director of the United Steelworkers (USW).

“Our campaign to Stop the Killing and Enforce the Law has been gaining support over the last year,” said Warren. “We are tired of seeing workers killed at a rate of 1,000 a year across Canada, while corporations and their leadership are not held accountable.”

Project manager in deadly scaffolding collapse apologizes at sentencing

Oct. 16, 2015, The Globe and Mail, by Diana Mehta

A Toronto project manager found guilty in a deadly scaffolding collapse which saw members of his construction crew plummet to the ground told a court Friday that he was sorry for what had happened.

Vadim Kazenelson told his sentencing hearing he would never forget the day when four men died and another was seriously injured while repairing balconies at a Toronto highrise.

Dartmouth auto shop owner charged under Westray Bill in mechanic’s death

Sept. 10, 2015, CBC News, by Blair Rhodes

A man who used to operate an auto repair shop in Dartmouth has been charged under the so-called Westray Bill, marking the first time the law — named for a Nova Scotia disaster — has been used against an employer in this province.

Elie Hoyeck, who used to run Your Mechanic Auto Corner, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death in connection with an explosion that killed Peter Kempton, a mechanic, two years ago.

Kempton, 58, died of his injuries after he accidentally sparked the fire while dismantling a minivan with a torch on Sept. 20, 2013.

B.C. mill that exploded should have been shut down: worker

July 17, 2015, Prince George Citizen, by Mark Nielsen

BURNS LAKE, B.C. – Freezing temperatures wrecked equipment at a sawmill that hadn’t been prepared for such weather before an explosion killed two workers, a coroner’s inquest has heard.

Archie Alec, who worked as a chipper attendant, testified Friday that a cold snap made it tough to operate machinery at Babine Forest Products in the days before a blast on Jan. 20, 2012.

Robert Luggi, 45, and 42-year-old Carl Charlie, died in the disaster that also left 19 others injured, some with severe burns.

WorksafeBC says Babine was a dust explosion and fire

Ryan Belcourt was likely the last person to talk to Robert Luggi.

Belcourt, the sawmill supervisor at Babine Forest Products’ Burns Lake sawmill, was investigating why one of the edgers had broken down shortly before 8 p.m. on the evening of January 20, 2012. He met Luggi at chipper #2, he told the seven-member coroner’s jury looking into the death of Luggi and Carl Charlie. The blast also injured 19 others.

“He was trying to figure out why the chipper was down,” Belcourt said, adding Luggi had called in an electrician to look at the edger and the last he saw of him, Luggi was headed up to the log deck on the other side of the mill.

Public Inquiry Into Sawmill Explosions Needed to Provide Justice for Victims

July 13, 2015, USW media release

BURNABY, B.C. – As the coroner’s inquest into the Babine Forest Products mill explosion begins Monday, the United Steelworkers (USW) is reiterating its call for a full, public inquiry into the tragic sawmill disasters that killed four workers and injured dozens more.

The Steelworkers, represented by legal counsel, will be participating in the Babine inquest to press for changes to regulatory practices by various government agencies to ensure the health and safety of workers is paramount.

Canada Should Treat Workplace Deaths as Seriously as Bangladesh

Why can’t Canada take workplace deaths at least as seriously as Bangladesh does?

Over 40 serious criminal charges were recently laid against garment company owners, managers and government officials in Bangladesh — a country notorious for sweatshops and labour rights abuses — following a horrific factory fire that killed more than a thousand workers two years ago.

But despite the annual death toll tied to Canadian worksites, which averages around 1,000 a year, the number of prosecutions against company managers alleged to have made decisions or implemented policies that lead to worker deaths has been minimal, despite the existence of legislation that allows for such prosecutions.

Criminal Charges Laid in Death of Young Quarry Worker at Stave Lake in 2007

April 20, 2015, USW media release

Charges are believed to be the first of their kind in B.C. in a workplace death

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, criminal negligence charges have been laid in the death of a worker in B.C.

Kelsey Anne Kristian, 22, was killed at the Stave Lake Quarries in Mission in 2007 when she was pinned by her runaway truck as it rolled onto its side, according to a coroner’s report.

USW’s Stop the Killing campaign

Join our newsletter

Recent news

Image for Another win for workers over Ford’s bad bills – Steelworkers

Another win for workers over Ford’s bad bills – Steelworkers

November 30, 2022 | Media Releases

The USW is among more than 40 unions, representing 270,000 workers across Ontario, that filed a constitutional challenge to Bill 124 in 2019. The coalition’s argument that Bill 124 violates the collective bargaining rights enshrined in the freedom of association guarantee of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been validated by this court ruling.

Read More
Click to read the article about Another win for workers over Ford’s bad bills – Steelworkers