UPDATED: Vale fine to go to city [Sudbury] – by Star Staff (Sudbury Star – September 20, 2013)

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

The more than $1 million Vale Canada was fined for the deaths of two Stobie Mine employees will go to the City of Greater Sudbury, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour confirmed Thursday.

Matt Blajer said on top of the $1.050 million fine, Vale has to pony up an additional 25% — or $250,000 — which will be put into a provincial fund for victims of crime. The fine will go into the city’s general revenue stream, city spokesperson Shannon Dowling said.

On Tuesday, Vale pleaded guilty to three charges under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act for the deaths of Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26. On June 8, 2011, the men were crushed by a 350-ton run of muck at the 3,000-foot level of the mine.

The company was originally facing nine charges, while supervisor Keith Birnie faced six. Joe Cimino, a city councillor who’s also vying for the provincial NDP nomination, called the plea bargain upsetting.

“What’s happened is, now there’s more questions in the community than there are answers,” he said. “This shut a door to a public trial. We need a full inquiry now, not in 10 years. “This is so unfair to the families.”

Others, including Nickel MPP Frances Gelinas and the Steelworkers union, have called for a public inquiry into mine safety in Ontario.

So far, despite intense lobbying, the provincial government has refused. Instead, Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi has said the government favours a review of mining practices.

Critics, however, said it’s time for a inquiry into mine safety. The last one was held more than 30 years ago, but mining methods and technology have changed dramatically since then, they argue.

A plea bargain this week dropping most of the Occupational Health and Safety Act charges against Vale in the deaths of two Stobie miners is a betrayal of workers and their families, the United Steelworkers charge.

“(The) decision highlights our government’s failure to take comprehensive, meaningful action to better protect workers and to ensure justice for families whose loved ones are needlessly injured or killed on the job,” Rick Bertrand, president of USW Local 6500 said in a release.

“Damning evidence was uncovered that showed the deaths of Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram, like so many other injuries and fatalities in Ontario mines, were preventable,” Bertrand said. “Yet our government has refused to pursue the possibility of a criminal prosecution and rejected a public inquiry into mining safety.

“We’re left with a plea-bargain deal in which our government drops most of the health and safety charges in exchange for a fine against one of the largest corporations in the world.”

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