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Government approves a mining safety review

By: Jonathan Migneault - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Dec 04, 2013 - 5:37 PM |
United Steelworkers Local 6500 President Rick Bertrand said he is confident a mine safety review will effectively implement recommendations to improve the safety of underground miners. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.

United Steelworkers Local 6500 President Rick Bertrand said he is confident a mine safety review will effectively implement recommendations to improve the safety of underground miners. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.

Review is expected to implement recommendations faster than an inquiry

They did not get the government inquiry they had asked for, but the United Steelworkers and members of the Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone's Support (MINES) Committee said the provincial government's decision to start a mine safety review was a big victory.

Briana Fram, the MINES Committee's secretary, and Jordan Fram's sister, said the review would fulfil all the recommendations an inquiry would have achieved.

“It most definitely feels like a victory,” she said.

Fram's brother Jordan, and Jason Chenier, were killed in a run of muck at the 3,000-foot level of Vale's Stobbie Mine in Sudbury on June 8, 2011.

On Feb. 29, 2012, the United Steelworkers released a comprehensive report with 165 recommendations to ensure other miners would not face the same dangerous conditions that killed Fram and Chenier the year before.

One of the report's main recommendations was for the Ontario government to initiate a detailed mine safety inquiry. The last inquiry of the sort was conducted in 1981, and the Steelworkers argued changes in technology and mining practices necessitated a fresh look at the industry.

The MINES Committee was formed on Oct. 1, 2012, and immediately started a campaign to pressure the government for an inquiry.

Wednesday the Liberals announced they would begin a tripartite review of the mining industry, chaired by public representatives, union leaders and industry representatives.

Wendy Fram, Jordan's mother, and the chair of MINES, sit on the review committee as an independent observer.

“Miners and their families deserve the protection of up-to-date safety legislation,” Wendy told media Wednesday. “No worker should to go work with a lunch bag and return home in a body bag.”

Rick Bertrand, president of United Steelworkers Local 6500, said the government had assured him the review would make effective and rapid change to improve safety in the industry.

“He (Ontario Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi) mentioned the review would be as good, if not better, than the inquiry the Steelworkers were looking at,” Bertrand said.

Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci told Northern Life a review will be more efficient than an inquiry, and will allow the government to implement changes within a year, rather than initiate a long drawn out process.

“I think everyone will be satisfied with the thoroughness of this review,” Bartolucci said.

Bartolucci added he is confident the parameters of the review will be ironed out before the end of the year.
 
Jonathan Migneault

Jonathan Migneault

Staff Writer

@jmigneault

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