Kathleen Wynne Dismisses Public's Pleas for Mine Safety Inquiry: Steelworkers

TORONTO, July 30, 2013 /CNW/ - Premier Kathleen Wynne has callously rejected an appeal from Ontario's largest mining union to discuss a long-overdue inquiry into mine safety, waiting two months to even acknowledge the request.

"Premier Wynne appears unfazed by the fact that our mining communities have suffered scores of deaths and thousands of injuries since the government last examined mine safety in this province," said Marty Warren, United Steelworkers' (USW) Ontario Director.

"We hoped the new premier would take this issue more seriously than her predecessor, but that is not the case," Warren said.

"It's disgraceful that the Premier has no interest in discussing the pleas of the grieving families and co-workers of deceased miners, who know only too well that a mine safety inquiry in Ontario is long overdue," said Rick Bertrand, President of USW Local 6500, representing 2,600 mine workers in Sudbury.

Bertrand and Warren sent a joint request to Wynne on May 16, asking to meet with the premier to make the case for a mine safety inquiry. Wynne waited more than two months to respond, sending a letter dated July 24 that rejects a meeting and refers the matter back to the labour minister.

"It has been more than 30 years since a provincial commission examined mine safety in Ontario," Bertrand noted. "Given the toll of deaths and injuries and the dramatic changes in this industry over the last three decades, it defies belief that Kathleen Wynne and her government are opposed to this long-overdue inquiry."

Thousands of Ontarians, primarily in northern mining communities, have signed on to a campaign calling for a provincial inquiry into mining health and safety.

The campaign was launched last year following an unprecedented USW investigation into the deaths of two Sudbury miners working for global mining giant Vale.

The USW investigation concluded the miners' deaths were preventable. The deaths could have been avoided if the province had implemented a coroner's mine-safety recommendations made 15 years earlier, the union found.

"Premier Wynne must recognize that too many miners have been killed and injured at work," said Warren. "We will continue to press the Liberal government do the right thing and call an inquiry."

SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792, 519-504-9099 
Rick Bertrand, USW Local 6500 President, 705-675-3381, 705-521-3412 
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca


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