Sudbury

First Nickel fined $1.3M in connection to 2014 mining deaths — but there's little hope that will ever be paid

Former Sudbury mining company First Nickel has been sentenced to pay a landmark fine of $1.3 million following the deaths of two workers at Lockerby mine — but it seems unlikely that will ever be paid.

Families of the two victims, Norm Bisaillon and Marc Methe, call for inquest

First Nickel has been sentenced to a fine of $1.3 million in connection to the 2014 deaths of two workers at Sudbury's Lockerby Mine. The former mining company was found guilty of six charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act on Tuesday. (CBC)

Former Sudbury mining company First Nickel has been sentenced to pay a landmark fine of $1.3 million following the deaths of two workers at Lockerby mine  —  but it seems unlikely that will ever be paid.

First Nickel was found guilty of six charges under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act on Tuesday.

The charges were in connection with the 2014 deaths of Norm Bisaillon and Marc Methe, who were killed after a fall of ground at Lockerby Mine in Sudbury.

But, First Nickel is now defunct. The company went into receivership in 2015 and has not been represented in court throughout the proceedings.

"It wouldn't matter if it was a million dollars or one dollar. They're not here. They get to walk away," said Romeena Kozoriz, who had been married to Bisaillion for 25 years at the time of his death. 

"I don't see how a company has the right to go bankrupt and walk away from something as horrific as killing two people," she said. 

Romeena Kozoriz, widow of Norm Bisallion, says the verdict against First Nickel doesn't feel like justice. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Crown attorney and Ministry of Labour Lawyer Dave McCaskill said the $1.3 million fine is now the highest ever imposed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in Ontario, and it will be put on the books — but that's about it.

McCaskill argued to the court that the fine should be $1.5 million. 

"The penalty must be significant enough to send shockwaves through the mining community moving forward," McCaskill told the court.

Families calling for inquest

Dave Stewart, a workplace health and safety professional and a representative for the families, has similar hopes that the verdict and penalty will at least send a strong message.

"We need to implement and ensure that the safety system is in place, and we're all accountable, whether it's the employer, supervisor, or worker," Stewart said.

The families are now asking for an inquest into the deaths, so that recommendations can be put forward to prevent similar deaths from happening in the future.

"If we can prevent this from happening to other families, then you know what, we can say one positive thing came from Norm and Marc's death," Kozoriz said.

Taurus Drilling, the contractor that employed the men, also faced four charges in this case, but it was acquitted on all counts.

About the Author

Robin De Angelis is a multimedia journalist based in southwestern Ontario. She has previously worked as a reporter covering local news in Sudbury. Get in touch on Twitter @RobinElizabethD or by email robin.deangelis@cbc.ca

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