A criminal charge against Detour Gold for the June 2015 death of a worker at its Cochrane mine validates United Steelworkers’ campaign for better enforcement of the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code, says a leader of the union.
Ontario Corporation 1909583, operating as Detour Gold Corp. of Toronto, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death in the June 3 death of Denis Millette, 52. Millette was repairing equipment at Detour Lake Mine when workers found him in medical distress. On-site personnel tended to Millette, but he perished. The investigation concluded he died of acute cyanide intoxication.
A first appearance in court on the criminal charge is scheduled for May 10 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Cochrane. USW Ontario director Marty Warren said he hopes the charge will be prosecuted as soon as possible. Detour Gold Mine is not unionized, Warren pointed out.
The OPP conducted what it called a thorough investigation in accordance with the Ontario Coroner’s Act, working with the Centre of Forensic Sciences, the Northeast Region Coroner’s Office and the Ministry of Labour. Officers from the James Bay OPP detachment crime unit laid the charge against the corporation.
Warren said USW lobbied to have the Westray Bill enacted more than a decade ago so corporate directors and executives would be held criminally accountable for workplace deaths and injuries.
Bill C-45, the Westray Bill, was passed in 2004, amending the Criminal Code to impose an occupational health and safety duty on individuals, organizations and their decision-makers. It established workplace negligence as a criminal offence by adding a new duty on organizations and individuals to take “reasonable steps” to prevent bodily harm and death.
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