“By defining roles and protocols, police can focus on any criminal activity that may have occurred and investigators can ensure their time is spent on the incident investigation,” said Marlin Degrand, assistant commissioner RCMP K Division and Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police representative. On May 9, 1992, a large explosion in the Westray Mine in Plymouth, N.S. killed 26 underground miners. A subsequent public inquiry blamed the mine management and government for what was deemed a preventable disaster. In response to the Westray Mine disaster, the federal government amended the Criminal Code to allow criminal charges in serious cases of workplace fatalities or injuries. The law applies to anyone on a work site who directs the work of others. Since the amendments took effect in 2004, there have been 11 prosecutions in Canada, with three convictions and one person imprisoned. There have been no prosecutions in Alberta. “We are happy to see this initiative go forward. It will add to the toolkit of enforcement officers, ensuring that individuals who are criminally negligent are held to account. We believe this is an important step towards making workplaces safer for all working people in Alberta,” said Jared Matsunaga-Turnbull, executive director, Alberta Workers’ Health Centre.
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