THUNDER BAY, ON, Sept. 14, 2018 /CNW/ - It took four years to be heard, but this week's inquest into the 2014 death of Pascal Goulet at the Lac des Iles Mine made clear that mine safety still has a long way to go and companies need to be more accountable to families and other workers exposed to the same dangers, says United Steelworkers (USW) Ontario Director Marty Warren.
"The inquest is an important part of the process of creating safer mining workplaces," said Warren. "So far, however, North American Palladium – the owner of Lac des Iles Mine – has simply been fined $300,000 for failing to ensure written safety precautions and procedures. That seems a paltry sum compared to the loss of a man's life."
Goulet, 38, was a USW member and the father of two young daughters. He was killed when struck by a large piece of ore in the mine's underground operation about 100 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.
Warren said the nine recommendations from the inquest jury will help to prevent the kind of circumstances that led to Pascal Goulet's death at age 38.
"But the cost of one man's life is a high price to pay for a situation that could have been prevented," he added. "Our union will never stop fighting for safer workplaces and for corporate accountability for workers' death and injury."
While safety at the mine has improved since Goulet's death, it is little consolation to his widow, Mélanie.
"I think that all nine recommendations should be implemented and I hope to God that one of these recommendations can save somebody else's life one day so no other family, no other children like my two beautiful daughters, have to live through what we've been living for the last four years," Melanie Goulet said.
Goulet called on the provincial government to implement the jury's recommendation that coroner's inquests be scheduled more expeditiously, saying it is unacceptable for families to wait more than four years for the process to unfold.
"I think it's terrible that families have to wait this long. I hope that this recommendation will become law and won't just be a recommendation. An inquest should be held within six months after other legal proceedings are done," she said.
"The inquest was a long time coming," said Jason Card, President of USW Local 9422, representing workers at Lac des Iles Mine.
"This process is finally bringing much-needed closure to Pascal's family and also to our members. We will never forget what happened but it would help families to move on quicker and not have to relive everything after four years."
"The recommendations from the inquest jury are practical and hopefully will be given serious consideration and implemented to prevent serious injury or tragedy as we experienced with Pascal Goulet's passing," added USW Staff Representative Herb Daniher.
The USW is leading a national campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, that calls on governments across the country to adopt key measures to enforce the Westray Law that was enacted in 2004 to hold companies and their directors accountable for workplace death and injury. For information on the campaign, visit www.stopthekilling.ca.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792; Sylvia Boyce, USW District 6 Health and Safety Co-ordinator, 905-741-9830, [email protected]; Herb Daniher, USW Staff Representative, 807-627-4759, [email protected]; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, [email protected]