TORONTO, Aug. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - "One year after the deadly explosion at
the Sunrise Propane Facility, we still have a lot of ticking time bombs in the
towns and cities of Ontario, and employees and members of the public are as at
risk as ever," says Bob Huget, Ontario Region Vice-President of the
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. The CEP represents
over 5,000 members who work in industries regulated by the Technical Standards
Safety Authority (TSSA), such as natural gas and petroleum, propane fuels,
boilers and elevators etc.
The Ministry of Labour has now laid charges against Sunrise Propane for
failing to protect the health and safety of a worker, and failing to ensure
that the facility was adhering to industry regulations. A class action lawsuit
has also been initiated against the company by 3,000 residents living in the
area around the propane blast. "If the TSSA had been doing its job, this
explosion wouldn't have happened. The public needs to know that their safety
around high-risk worksites has been entrusted to a private agency made up of
industry representatives. The government's current amendments concerning the
TSSA in Bill 187 do absolutely nothing to change this."
Former Premier Mike Harris and the Conservative government set up the
TSSA to be a private corporation with a board of directors drawn primarily
from industry. Because it is a private corporation, the TSSA is not
accountable to the public as a government agency would be, and does not fall
under government oversight. The Liberal government's proposed Bill 187
reiterates that the TSSA remains a corporation; that its officers, directors,
employees etc. are not agents of the Crown; and that the Crown is not liable
for any acts or omissions by persons who are not agents of the Crown.
"We understand from our members working in industries which fall under
the TSSA that if they call the TSSA about a safety concern, the first question
the TSSA asks is who is going to pay for an investigation. If there's no
immediate response to that question, it seems to be a lot less likely that the
TSSA will come in and investigate the safety risk. Since the government has
offloaded funding to the TSSA, you can't count on the Authority to have enough
money to do their inspections. Another area of great concern is that the TSSA
regularly grants variances from Regulations to industry, allowing the use of
equipment and practices that are usually considered to be a safety risk.
As we've said in our letter to the Premier, how is it that the TSSA has a
governmental power to exempt companies from public safety standards, but it's
not accountable to the public?" asks Huget.
"All you have to do is read through Bill 187 to see what scared the
government the most about the Sunrise Propane explosion - not the health and
safety of the public and workers, but the government's and the TSSA's
potential exposure in these cases. There's a lot of ink spilled isolating the
government and the TSSA from liabilities relating to the TSSA's mandate, and
nothing making the TSSA more accountable and Ontario a safer place to live and
work in. It's time the TSSA was taken away from the private sector and brought
back under government control."
For further information:
For further information: Bob Huget, CEP Ontario Region Vice-President,
(613) 299-9839; Josephine Petcher, CEP National Representative, (647)