Sudbury

Steelworkers, labour minister to discuss mine safety review

Ontario labour minister is meeting with the United Steelworkers later Thursday to discuss the issue of mine safety in the province.

Earlier this summer the province rejected a call for a full mine safety inquiry

Ontario’s labour minister is meeting with the United Steelworkers later Thursday to discuss the issue of mine safety in the province.

USW 6500 president Rick Bertrand. (CBC)

At the end of July, Yasir Naqvi and the provincial government rejected calls for a public inquiry on the issue, but said it may consider the possibility of a formal review in its place. That's one of the options that will be discussed during Thursday's meeting in Toronto.

But the Sudbury branch of the United Steelworkers says a review isn’t good enough.

"I mean, what is going to come out of [a review]," asked Rick Bertrand, the local Steelworkers president. "They’re maybe going to come out with recommendations, wherein an inquiry, at least we have time to collect the evidence and be able to make changes to the [Mining] Act."

Yasir Naqvi is Ontario's labour minister. (CBC)

USW Local 6500 has been pushing for an underground mining inquiry since the deaths of two men at Vale’s Stobie Mine in Sudbury in 2011.

It’s been more than 30 years since Ontario’s last inquiry into underground mining, Bertrand said, adding that a lot has changed since then.

"Mines are bigger than they were before, there’s more equipment underground compared to the past," he said. "We need to get to the bottom of why people are still dying underground."

For his part, labour minister Yasir Naqvi said in an email statement that he has been meeting with "mining partners" over the past several months to see "how we can best address mine safety in a way that is fast, thorough and gets results."

In addition to representatives from the United Steelworkers, Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle will also be in attendance.

Despite the outcome of the meeting, Bertrand said he and the Steelworkers will continue to lobby for a formal inquiry.

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