Government’s latest failure reinforces the need for a public inquiry, Dix says

VANCOUVER – The failure to press charges for the Lakeland mill explosion reinforces that a public inquiry into the government’s failure to provide workers in this province protection and justice is essential, said New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix.

“In 2012 within the span of four months, two mills exploded, four workers died and 40 more were left injured. Two years later, justice has been denied to the families of the deceased and the survivors,” said Dix.

“Today, Crown Counsel’s decision to not press regulatory charges against Lakeland Mills only underscores the need for a full, public and independent investigation into WorkSafe BC.

“They have clearly botched two major investigations, leaving victims without justice. This is yet more evidence that under the Liberal government, WorkSafe BC is failing in its core mission to keep workers safe. The tens of thousands of workers who are at industrial job sites around the province deserve to know that someone is going to get to the bottom of this failure.”

Dix also said this decision lets another company off the hook for yet another preventable tragedy. Like Babine Forest Products before it, Lakeland must have been aware of the hazards of wood dust and simply did not do enough to prevent these deaths.

“WorkSafe BC has one main job: to keep workers safe,” said Dix. “Yet despite the fact that people were pointing to wood dust as a factor in the Burns Lake tragedy within days, not enough work was done by the safety regulator nor by companies to ensure that mills were cleaning up their operations.

“This is on top of the fact that WorkSafe received a briefing from a U.S. expert in 2010 about the dangers of wood dust.

“This is failure on top of failure, which led to tragedy on top of tragedy,” said Dix. “The company failed to act. WorkSafe failed to monitor. Workers paid the price.

“The Liberal government must finally side with the victims, their families and communities who want the full truth to come out, and immediately call for a full, public and independent investigation.”