Sudbury Council backs call for [mining] inquiry – by Carol Mulligan (June 8, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Greater Sudbury Council has unanimously endorsed a motion calling on Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey to commission an inquiry into the state of mining in Ontario and the ministry’s enforcement of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The May 29 motion has been forwarded to Jeffrey, two local MPPs and the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, which will be asked to support it. The motion was presented by Ward 3 Coun. Claude Berthiaume at the request of United Steelworkers Local 6500. It has been calling for the inquiry since it concluded its investigation into the deaths of two men June 8, 2011, at Vale Ltd.’s Stobie Mine.

One year ago today, Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, were killed by a run of muck while working on the 3,000-foot level near the No. 7 ore pass at Stobie. The call for an inquiry was part of a 200-plus-page report the union made public in late February, which contained 162 recommendations.

On the Day of Mourning, commemorated by Local 6500 on April 28, Gerry Lougheed Jr. launched a postcard campaign calling on Jeffrey to launch the mining probe.

Lougheed says more than 10,000 postcards are in distribution to be mailed to Jeffrey. Her press secretary, Greg Dennis, said 718 cards have been received in the minister’s office.

The Labour ministry takes correspondence from Ontarians seriously, whether it receives 10 postcards or 10,000, said Dennis.

Lougheed and Local 6500 President Rick Bertrand expressed optimism earlier this week that an inquiry would be called after the one-year anniversary of the men’s deaths.

But Dennis reiterated Jeffrey’s position this week that the Labour ministry is already doing a great deal relating to mine safety.

Mandatory coroner’s inquests will be held into the deaths of Chenier and Fram, some time after charges laid against Vale and one of its supervisors under the Occupational Health and Safety Act are dealt with in provincial court.

Last week, the Labour ministry laid nine charges against the company and one against an individual for not taking reasonable precautions relating to safety at Stobie Mine.

A former reporter who covered the Westray mining disaster in 1992, Dennis said the ministry focuses on mine safety year-round with regular inspections.

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