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B.C. Minister of Labour on decision not to pursue charges in the Lakeland (PG) mill explosion

VICTORIA - Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour made the following statement today on the Criminal Justice Branch's decision not to pursue charges in the Lakeland (PG) mill explosion:

"I am deeply sorry for what the families and our community have had to go through and we owe it to them to make sure we prevent this from ever happening again. We started that work immediately after the Babine investigation, and proceeded in a careful way to ensure no actions compromised Crown's process on the Lakeland investigation. Now that Crown has made its decision we are able to take the next steps necessary to protect worker safety.

Government is continuing to take comprehensive action to protect worker safety by:

* making sure WorkSafeBC's investigations are handled correctly for future prosecutions.* ensuring that what happened at these two sawmills doesn't happen again and risk the lives of workers.* driving change in the culture and process at WorkSafeBC.

To make sure we know if anything could have prevented what happened at Lakeland, I have asked Attorney General Suzanne Anton to direct B.C.'s Chief Coroner to conduct an inquest into the explosion at Lakeland. I am advised that she has done so.

As the Coroner stated about her inquest into the explosion at Babine, an inquest is 'the best venue to address the many concerns and questions raised about how and why the explosion happened and what can be done to prevent a similar event in the future.'

While we await the results of her inquest, we need to move forward even more decisively on reform at WorkSafeBC. This will build on the action we have already taken. The chair and board of WorkSafeBC have agreed to appoint Gord Macatee as administrator to drive that change. Mr. Macatee is an experienced executive with service at the most senior levels of government.

This is why I met earlier today with both of them to provide a letter of direction on the agenda of change Mr. Macatee will lead. That direction includes:

1. Ensuring future investigations are handled correctly by implementing recommendations from the Dyble Report.2. Ensuring our sawmills are safe workplaces by implementing the 90-day action plan on sawmill safety.3. Review workers' compensation boards in other jurisdictions, to understand the merits of and determine best practices in organizational structures specifically relating to the separation of enforcement vs. regulation.4. Develop a plan for implementing a world-class inspection and investigation regime, incorporating best practices, workforce review and enhanced training.5. Provide a single status report by July 1, consolidating the plans and reports noted in items 1 to 4 above.6. Conduct the search for and finalize the appointment of a new and permanent CEO.

I will review progress on all of this on a regular basis and meet with WorkSafeBC at the beginning of July, to assess progress and whether further steps are required.

Families and friends of the victims of the Lakeland and Babine explosions are continuing to grieve. Together, we are addressing the pressing need to both restore confidence in WorkSafeBC investigations and to make sure workers and families never again face circumstances like those at Babine and Lakeland."

For a copy of Minister Shirley Bond's letter to WorkSafeBC Board Chair George Morfitt: http://www.labour.gov.bc.ca/wab/pdf/April14_Letter_to_WorkSafeBC.pdf

 

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