Sudbury PC candidate backs mine safety call (Sudbury Star – August 8, 2013)

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

The Progressive Conservative candidate for Sudbury said Wednesday she supports a call for a public inquiry into mine safety in Ontario. In a release, Paula Peroni said she can relate to the issue in a very personal way. “My father worked for Inco (now Vale) and was very severely injured in 1978, which almost cost him his life,” Peroni said.

She criticized the governing Liberals, who have refused to call an inquiry, despite pressure from the Steelworkers union and a Sudbury-based lobby groups, MINES — Mining Inquiry Needs Ever yone’s Support.

The Steelworkers have been calling for an inquiry since the deaths of two Sudbury miners, Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, at Vale’s Stobie Mine, in 2011. They were killed when they were buried by tonnes of rock and water.

A Steelworkers investigation concluded the deaths could have been prevented. Local 6500 of the Steelworkers represent production workers at Vale’s Sudbury operations.

Vale is facing nine charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and one of its supervisors is facing six charges under the act after a Labour ministry investigation into the deaths.

Peroni said the time for an inquiry is now.

“After the tragic deaths of two Sudbury miners a mine safety inquiry should have been the highest priority,” Peroni. “Shame on (Premier Kathleen Wynne) for not understanding or caring about how important mining is to our way of life here in Northern Ontario.”

“The fact that our premier has waited this long, and is still rejecting the Steelworkers’ calls for an inquiry, shows that she’s not taking the issue very seriously.”

Last week, Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi told The Star an inquiry was not needed because his ministry has already taken steps to improve safety underground, including organizing safety blitzes.

However, critics like the Steelworkers argue that it has been more than 30 years since Ontario has held an inquiry into mine safety. A new one is needed to better reflect new mining technology and procedures, they say.

The union was sharply critical of Wynne last week, saying her failure to call an inquiry is “disgraceful.”

“The biggest concern right now is prevention,” said Peroni. “We need to prevent further tragedies from occurring and only an inquiry into mine safety will accomplish that.”

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