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Mine safety review starts in Sudbury

By: Jonathan Migneault - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Jan 29, 2014 - 10:05 AM |
Fergus P. Kerr, left, employer vice chair of the government's mining review committee, chair George Gritziotis, labour vice-chair John Perquin discuss the review committee's goals during their first meeting Tuesday, Jan. 28. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.

Fergus P. Kerr, left, employer vice chair of the government's mining review committee, chair George Gritziotis, labour vice-chair John Perquin discuss the review committee's goals during their first meeting Tuesday, Jan. 28. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.

Committee aims to improve mining industry safety

The woman tasked with being the independent observer of Ontario's mining review committee knows how dangerous working underground can be.

Wendy Fram lost her son, Jordan, in a mining accident in 2011. Despite her personal tragedy, she said this week it is important to remember the review committee, which held the first of six meetings in Sudbury on Jan. 28, is about more than a single incident.

"We may have reached our goal, but the hard work is to come," Fram wrote in an open letter. "Remember, this is not the MINES committee review, or the Jason and Jordan review - this is our community's review - from Sudbury to Timmins to all of Ontario."

The Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone's Support (MINES) Committee was formed in reaction to the mining deaths of Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier, who were 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.

The review into mining safety was initiated after a campaign from the United Steelworkers and the MINES Committee for a mine safety inquiry. The government agreed to instead begin a tripartite review of the mining industry, chaired by public representatives, union leaders and industry representatives.

The provincial government's mining review committee agrees it will need to look at the adequacy of training in the industry and changes to mining technology over its 12-month mandate.

The committee will hold meetings in five other communities across Ontario.
"There's an agreement this has to be inclusive, that we need to hear as many voices as possible," said George Gritziotis, Ontario's chief prevention officer and the review committee's chair. "We want input on enforcement practices on the regulatory piece."

Gritziotis said the review will recommend amendments to government regulations where appropriate.

Other recommendations, he said, will be based around workplace standards for the mining industry. "To me it's about outcomes and responsiveness," Gritziotis said. "How can I have a positive impact in the workplace as soon as possible?"

Gritziotis said the review will not call witnesses to testify, as an inquiry would, but will seek to engage the public and mining industry stakeholders through consultations.

The committee includes two vice-chairs who represent the mining industry and labour.

John Perquin, of the United Steelworkers, is the labour vice-chair, and Fergus P. Kerr, vice-president of operations at Global Atomic Fuels Corporation, is the employer vice-chair.

The committee also includes representatives from Workplace Safety North, the Institute of Work and Health and the Mining Legislative Review Committee.

@jmigneault
Jonathan Migneault

Jonathan Migneault

Staff Writer

@jmigneault

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