A Nova Scotia judge has refused to throw out an occupational health and safety charge against Aecon Construction Inc., ruling the case has not gone beyond the 18-month time limit for provincial court cases set by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The case involves a workplace incident at Dalhousie University in September 2013. A steel beam fell on a 40-year-old worker and left him with a spinal cord injury. The man now uses a wheelchair.
The trial, which had been held over seven days in January, May and September 2017, is set to continue this month.
Aecon Construction was charged in April 2015 with four workplace safety violations. Three of those charges have been dismissed, leaving only one that alleges that Aecon failed to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of a person at the workplace.
In a written decision released Wednesday, Nova Scotia provincial court Judge Greg Lenehan calculated the total delay in the case and the addition of more trial days — due to both Crown and defence adjournments — would have been 17 months and 14 days by the last day of anticipated testimony on Dec. 19, 2017.
"I find this delay is not unreasonable and it is under the presumptive ceiling established by the Supreme Court," Lenehan wrote in the decision.
The judge also found there had not been undue delay by the Labour Department before laying the first set of charges against Aecon. The judge said he would not stay the charge and ruled Aecon's charter right to receive a fair trial had not been violated.
Last month, Aecon's lawyer argued the prosecution had already taken 25 months. The Crown countered the total delay was between 16 and 22 months.