October 20, 2010
Charges against Public Works Requires Urgent Action
Ottawa – The Canada Labour Code violation charges over a boiler explosion that killed engineer Peter Kennedy are a welcome step, said the Public Service Alliance of Canada today. The charges come one year after Kennedy, a PSAC member, was killed in the tragic accident at the Cliff Central Heating and Cooling Plant near Parliament.
Public Works and Government Services Canada must be held accountable for health and safety violations in the workplace, and the federal government must take action to prevent further workplace injuries and fatalities.
“We remember and mourn the death of Peter Kennedy and our thoughts are also with the other two PSAC members seriously injured in the explosion,” said Mark Brunell, President of the Government Services Union, a component of PSAC.
The federal government must invest in improving our federal infrastructure, as well as in better health and safety training in the workplace. Stronger federal enforcement of workplace health and safety is essential.
“Yesterday's apology by the Labour Minister for the unsafe conditions at the heating plant is a good first step,” said John Gordon, National President of PSAC. “The government must now take immediate action to establish an acceptable health and safety regime in the federal public service.”
In April, 2010, the PSAC and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released the report “Success is No Accident” which demonstrated that the federal government has not taken sufficient action to protect workers under its jurisdiction.
The report praised Canadian provinces for working “diligently to drive down the number of workplace injuries,” resulting in a 25% drop. Federally-regulated workplaces, however, told “a completely different story, with the disabling injury rate actually rising 5% over the past five years.”
This followed the 2009 Spring Report of the Auditor General of Canada that highlighted how the federal government was failing to ensure the safety of thousands of workers and members of the public by not properly enforcing its own fire safety rules.
PSAC called on the federal government to commit to enforcing health and safety protections by hiring more Labour Affairs Officers and work to reduce the workplace injury rate by 20 per cent within the next five years.
“Our union will continue to fight for better health and safety training within the federal public service,” said Gordon.
PSAC offered its full cooperation in working to ensure a more robust enforcement role by the federal government. When it comes to protecting the health and safety of our federal public service members, the government must work with us to promote the highest standard of safety.
For more information:
Alain Cossette, PSAC Communications, 613-293-9210 (cell)
Date Modified : 2010/10/20