Saskatchewan

No charges to be laid over Sask. worker suicide after workplace safety investigation

Occupational Health and Safety says no criminal charges will be laid after a workplace safety investigation into a rural municipality that was accused of bullying a worker who later took his own life.

Occupational Health and Safety investigated RM after Robert Duhaime took his own life in 2017

Brenda Duhaime with her husband Robert, pictured at their 35th wedding anniversary, a little over a year before Robert took his own life in August 2017. (Brenda Duhaime)

Occupational Health and Safety says no criminal charges will be laid after a workplace safety investigation into a rural municipality that was accused of bullying a worker who later took his own life.

Robert Duhaime of Vawn, Sask., died by suicide on Aug. 31, 2017.

In February, 2018, the Workers' Compensation Board concluded Duhaime's death stemmed from his employment as a grader operator at the RM of Parkdale. His widow, Brenda, said her husband was being bullied and harassed on the job.

The RM denied the WCB finding and appealed the decision, but the WCB tribunal upheld its original finding.

Occupational Health and Safety held its own investigation into the death. 

Investigation complete

Last week the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety confirmed the investigation is complete and no charges will be laid.

"When deciding whether or not to lay charges, consideration is given to if it is in the public interest, if there is an appropriate charge in the Occupational Health and Safety legislation, and if there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction under the circumstances. We cannot discuss the particulars of any decision," it said in a statement.

Duhaime's widow, Brenda Duhaime, said she was shocked by the decision.

"Who do they answer to? Kids in school have consequences, they're taught if you're bullied you're going to be punished, you could be expelled, all of these things, and what … adults don't have consequences?" said Duhaime.

"Who do they answer to? They must answer to somebody."

Duhaime has written to Justice Minister Don Morgan about how to pursue the case further.

RM says investigators made right decision

RM of Parkdale reeve Daniel Hicks said he thinks the investigators made the right decision because he did not think the RM was at fault. 

"It wasn't up to me to discipline any employees if I didn't have any evidence [of bullying]," said Hicks.

"Nothing was presented to me that was credible at the time when something could have been done about it."