There’s a lot of angry words floating around regarding just what the details of the WorkSafe BC report might be that was recently forwarded to the Crown. WorkSafe BC has identified violations of the Workers Compensation Act but they refuse to make the details known.
Steve Hunt, a director with the United Steel Workers union representing workers at both the Burns Lake and Prince George mills has been critical of the decision, and Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson is calling for the province to halt any plans to rebuild the Babine mill until the investigation is complete.
Both Hampton and Lakeland have been critical of the decision saying that they have co-operated fully with the investigation and that it’s time for the findings of the report to be made public.
Hunt says that WorkSafe BC’s decision doesn’t go far enough. He said that the RCMP should be looking at the file through a ‘criminal lens’ and he’s written to the minister responsible about it. Simpson has been against the mill rebuild for a lot of reasons, and the uncertainty surrounding the final details of the investigation just add fodder to his cannon.
How Hunt knows that the report doesn’t go far enough without knowing the details of the report is perplexing. Roberta Ellis, a senior vice president with WorkSafe BC said that if any evidence of criminal negligence were found then WorkSafe BC would have immediately turned the file over to the police. Is Hunt saying that WorkSafe BC is not equipped to identify criminal negligence?
The context of the move hasn’t been very helpful either. Ellis did not know how many cases in total it has referred to the crown. She did have the number of prosecutions and convictions since 1996, but knowing those numbers is virtually meaningless without knowing how many cases in total have been referred to the Crown . On the one hand Ellis says that it was an unusual move to forward the file to the crown, and on the other hand she said in a phone call later that most cases forwarded to the crown involve a death or serious injury.
So which is it? Is it unusual to forward a case like this or should we have expected it all along?
Workers have been unhappy with the decision as well, feeling that they deserve to know answers after already waiting so long.
So no one is happy with the decision and WorkSafe BC’s handling of it all hasn’t helped to clarify or give much context to the decision.
Another question that comes to mind is the timing of the announcement. With hampton set to make its final decision regarding the rebuild, why did WorkSafe BC choose the final days leading up to that decision to make this move known?
And why were both Hampton and Lakeland entirely out of the loop, learning of WorkSafe BC’s decision from media phone calls rather than from WorkSafe BC itself?
The focus should have been the findings of the report. Instead the focus is on the confusion surrounding the way the information was conveyed through the media to the public.