WOODSTOCK, Ont. – Maple Leaf Foods Inc. has been convicted for violating occupational health and safety law following an employee accident at its Thamesford facility two years ago. According to a court bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL), a worker was using an electric fork truck to load a one-person lift onto another truck on Sept. 4, 2015. But the truck moved away from the power loading dock and travelled down the concrete ramp outside of the dock, then struck a concrete wall. The fork truck and lift fell from the power loading dock, injuring the employee. The MOL’s investigation found that no one had blocked the wheels of the truck to prevent unexpected movement. In the Ontario Court of Justice in Woodstock, Maple Leaf later pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that workers were transporting materials in a way that the items would not tip and fall. Justice of the Peace Michael A. Cuthbertson sentenced the corporation to pay a fine of $110,000, plus a victim fine surcharge, on Sept. 29 of this year.
MONTREAL LAKE, Sask. – An occupational accident that resulted in a worker’s death two years ago has led to an $84,000 fine, including a $24,000 surcharge, for a transport company involved in the incident. A news release from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety stated that the accident had occurred near Waskesiu on July 27, 2015. An employee of Cowan Bros. Transport Ltd. was run over by a flatbed truck that a bulldozer was pushing that day, resulting in fatal injuries, the Ministry said. The employer later pleaded guilty in Montreal Lake Provincial Court to failing to ensure that workers’ activities did not negatively affect the health and safety of other workers. Cowan Bros. was sentenced to pay the fine on Sept. 21 of this year. “While everyone is responsible to create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace, employers carry the greatest responsibility because of their authority and control over the worksite,” the release stated.
EDMONTON, Alta. – Five people, including an officer with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), were injured in two related incidents that police are deeming acts of terrorism on the evening of Sept. 30. At about 8:15 p.m. that day, a man drove a white Chevrolet Malibou through traffic barricades near Commonwealth Stadium, according to an EPS media release. The vehicle struck a uniformed officer, and the driver then exited the vehicle and stabbed the wounded officer numerous times before fleeing on foot, police said. The officer was sent to a hospital with various injuries. The suspect went on to hit four civilian pedestrians with a U Haul truck later that night, police said. EPS officers have arrested a 30-year-old Edmonton resident in connection with the attacks. “Currently, we believe this is an individual who acted alone, although the investigation is in its early stages,” EPS chief Rod Knecht said in a press statement. “We are urging all Edmontonians to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings.” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley called the province’s first responders “incredible people” in an Oct. 1 statement responding to the attack. “Thank you to each and every one of our police officers, paramedics and firefighters who put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” she said.
A Moncton, N.B. judge has found the RCMP guilty on one of four charges under the Canada Labour Code related to the shooting of five Mounties, three of whom died, by Justin Bourque on June 4, 2014.
In a 64-page written decision, Judge Leslie Jackson deemed the federal police force guilty of failing to provide adequate use-of-force equipment and training for the situation, according to CBC News reporter Tori Weldon, who announced the verdicts in the Sept. 29 court proceedings live on her Twitter account.
But Judge Jackson found the RCMP not guilty of two other charges of providing sufficient information, instruction or training when responding to an active shooter in an open environment. He stayed another charge of failure to protect the health and safety of all workers, which he deemed to be similar to the guilty charge.
The case has been adjourned until Nov. 23, the sentencing date, Weldon tweeted.
Bourque was charged with three counts of first-degree murder after a lengthy manhunt located him two days after the shooting. He had killed Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, 45, Dave Ross, 32, and Douglas Larche, 40, in the incident; two other officers had been sent to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries (COHSN, June 16, 2014).
Bourque was sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 75 years in Oct. 2014.
RCMP management reportedly did not attend court, but the force did issue a statement from its Ottawa headquarters shortly after the verdict was announced.
“The RCMP respects the judicial process, and will review the decision and consider next steps,” the statement read.
The force added that it would continue to implement the Dec. 2014 recommendations by now-retired Assistant Commissioner Alphonse MacNeil on responding to incidents like the Moncton tragedy.
“The health and safety of our employees continues to be the top priority of the RCMP,” the statement said. “Today’s verdict will not change the tragic reality that on June 4, 2014, we lost three friends and colleagues – and nearly lost more – to the actions of one man.
“The murders… continue to affect us all, none more than the friends, family and colleagues of our fallen and injured members. Our thoughts remain with them.”
A previous RCMP statement claimed that the force had made “significant improvements in supervision, training, equipment, communications and aftercare” in response to MacNeil’s review of the incident.
Weldon quoted Crown prosecutor Paul Adams on Twitter following the verdicts. Adams declined to discuss possible fines that the RCMP may face, but acknowledged “some new ground in respect to how the Canada Labour Code is applied.”
BRAMPTON, Ont. – An automaker has been fined $140,000, plus a standard victim fine surcharge, for its role in a workplace accident that left an employee unconscious and injured at its Brampton assembly plant on July 26, 2015. That day, three workers with FCA Canada Inc. were performing annual preventative maintenance on the clutch of a D-Line Press, a machine that helps build vehicle panels, according to a court bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL). While the employees were removing bolts from the clutch, two bolts sprung out at a high speed, and the clutch spring assembly struck one worker in the head. The MOL investigated the incident and determined that the bolts were deteriorating and fracturing from the force applied to the clutch spring assemblies during every press cycle. FCA later pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton to failing to take every precaution reasonable to protect its employees, and Justice of the Peace Samantha Burton passed sentence on Sept. 27 of this year.
KELOWNA, B.C. – The Kelowna detachment of the RCMP has arrested a 66-year-old man who is accused of injuring a female Mountie by ramming his vehicle into hers before fleeing police on Sept. 24. According to a news release from the detachment, officers from both the Kelowna and Lake Country RCMP responded to a call about a man yelling erratically outside of his residence at 12:50 p.m. that day. “Officers… immediately began efforts to de-escalate the situation,” Corporal Jesse O’Donaghey, an RCMP media-relations officer, said in a press statement. “The male retreated to his personal vehicle, [with] which… he proceeded to ram one of the police vehicles twice prior to fleeing the scene.” One of the Lake Country officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries from the incident and was still recovering as of Sept. 25, the release noted. Cpl. O’Donaghey added that police had monitored the suspect’s vehicle with the help of unmarked police vehicles and the Southeast District RCMP Air Services. Officers soon apprehended the suspect under the Mental Health Act at his home and transported him to a hospital for medical assessment. He is now facing unspecified charges.
After a recent incident in which a group of correctional officers might have been exposed to fentanyl, the Joyceville Institution near Kingston, Ont. was locked down for a major search from Sept. 13 to 19.
Rob Finucan, Ontario regional president for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO), said that the alleged drug exposure had occurred while the guards had been searching cells in the federal prison. During the search, the officers suddenly felt as if they were intoxicated, he explained.
“We’re not sure if it was fentanyl,” said Finucan. “The one guy had recently had a surgery, so had pain medication, and he said it almost felt the same way as when he had the pain medication.” Doctors have often legally prescribed fentanyl as a pain reliever.
The officers underwent immediate medical examinations, “and I think their heart rates were elevated a bit, but nothing serious,” added Finucan. “So they went home, and they all said they’d slept for 12, 13 hours. And then the next day, they were fine.”
Following the incident, Joyceville’s assessment unit was locked down at 1 p.m. on Sept. 13, to enable staff to conduct an “exceptional search,” according to a news release from Correctional Service Canada (CSC). The release added that CSC was committed to preventing contraband in federal correctional facilities.
CSC did not indicate whether the lockdown was connected to the incident, but Finucan later confirmed that it had been.
“The union executive there said, ‘Okay, let’s search,’” he said. “They didn’t, and then finally, after a day and a half of arguing, they agreed to lock it down and search the entire institution.”
Joyceville’s assistant warden of management services did not respond to COHSN’s request for comment. But a second CSC release on Sept. 19 announced that the lockdown had ended and that normal operations at the prison had resumed.
“Correctional Service Canada… is strengthening measures to prevent the entry of contraband into its institutions in order to ensure a safe and secure environment,” the latter release stated. “CSC also works in partnership with the police to take action against those who attempt to have contraband brought into correctional institutions.”
Finucan noted that contraband is the most common way that drugs like fentanyl enter prisons and that there had been exposure incidents in the federal system. “They’ve had to use the naloxone on several officers in the prairie region,” he said, adding that fentanyl had been discovered at the Warkworth Institution near Campbellford, Ont. and that incidents had occurred at the Pittsburgh and Collins Bay facilities in the Kingston area.
UCCO has been lobbying to improve staff protections against drug contamination in federal correctional facilities. “What we want to do is make sure that we have a solid national protocol,” said Finucan. “We’d like to make sure that at every site, the officers have the equipment necessary if there is searching” for fentanyl or other drugs, he said. “The gloves, the goggles, the long-sleeved shirts and all that to protect them.”
Another protective measure that UCCO has recommended is that employees wear hoods in the mail rooms and other vulnerable areas. “And that’s probably the main thing,” said Finucan.
Built in 1959, the Joyceville Institution is located about 20 kilometres northeast of Kingston. It has a rated capacity of 752 inmates, according to its profile on the CSC website.
WINNIPEG, Man. – The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) has charged an 18-year-old man for uttering threats to two Winnipeg Transit employees early in the morning on Sept. 20. According to a WPS news release, the young man was sleeping on a bus, and the bus driver and a transit supervisor were trying to wake him up. The teen awoke and caused a disturbance, becoming aggressive and threatening both workers, police said. General patrol officers with the WPS responded to a call about the incident at about 12:15 a.m. and noted that the man was bound by a recognizance requiring him to leave a bus if ordered. Tyrell Marquel Cornish was arrested and charged with uttering threats and failing to comply with recognizance, police said.
Police officers in Calgary shot and seriously injured a man during a domestic-violence call on the evening of Sept. 20, after the man allegedly threatened the officers with undisclosed weapons.
A lengthy press statement from Ray Robitaille, acting chief of the Calgary Police Service (CPS), said that the officers had been called to a residence in the northeast section of the city at about 4:15 p.m. that day, following a report that a man had assaulted several people at the home before fleeing. Police soon located the suspect barricaded in a garage in another neighbourhood, and family and friends deduced from text messages that he was in distress.
“Officers contained the scene and attempted verbal communications with the man for approximately an hour and a half, in an effort to have him surrender peacefully,” Acting Chief Robitaille explained in the statement. “Officers believed the man was armed with a weapon.”
The suspect exited the garage at about 8 p.m. and confronted the officers with “weapons,” Robitaille added. Police deployed a Taser and firearms on the man, who was taken to a hospital in serious condition.
Robitaille said that the suspect is “known to police,” but did not release his name or age. Local media reports have identified him as Damon Parisian, stating that he is believed to be in his 30s.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating the incident. Robitaille noted that the CPS is cooperating fully with the investigation, which is focusing on three of the officers involved.
“They… responded to this call in a timely manner, taking all the necessary steps to ensure public safety and the safety of our officers,” he said about the three CPS members. “Their patience and due diligence was exceptional. Significant attempts were made to peacefully resolve the situation, but their duty to protect both the community and their fellow officers led to actions that stopped the threat.”
Charges are pending in the domestic-violence case, which police are investigating.
Robitaille’s statement stressed that the CPS’ priority is to protect both the community and fellow officers. “Every single day, our officers are faced with dynamic situations in which the preservation of life is always paramount,” he said. “Our members do everything possible to resolve a situation before ever drawing and discharging a firearm.”
Out of almost 220,000 service calls so far this year, the CPS has pointed firearms at a citizen in only 15, said Robitaille.
He added that the CPS’ Domestic Conflict Unit had received almost 1,500 calls over domestic incidents over the previous month, nearly 340 of which had involved violence.
WHITBY, Ont. – Aspect Retail Logistics Inc., an employer based in Pickering, Ont., has been convicted for a permanent injury that an employee suffered in a reach-truck accident last year. According to a court bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL), the worker was driving the reach truck and lost control of the vehicle while trying to make a left turn at the end of an aisle on May 10, 2016. The reach truck collided with a wall, injuring the employee. Evidence suggested that the truck had slipped on water that had remained behind after the floor had been cleaned. In the Ontario Court of Justice in Whitby, Aspect Retail later pleaded guilty to failing to keep a floor clear of obstructions or hazards, a violation of the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Justice of the Peace Ronald Prestage sentenced the company to pay a $75,000 fine, plus a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge, on Sept. 21 of this year.