Yesterday afternoon I was on the CBC drive-home show chatting about the government’s dismal record on workplace injury prosecutions. You can listen to the six-minute clip here.
I’ve had a couple of follow-on comments questioning why creative sentencing is on the upswing. My sense is that the government prosecutes so few OHS violations that those charges they do lay tend to be slam-dunks (i.e., prosecutors cream the “best” cases).
This allows the government to then go to the company and offer a choice: a long trial with lots of bad media coverage or a quiet guilty plea and the company can then pay the fine to a community group and look philanthropic. Companies then make the obvious choice.
One of the comments I didn’t have time to make during the interview are the bizarre discrepancies in health enforcement in Alberta. For example, riddle me this: why can I go online and find out that my favourite eatery had its cooler temperature two degrees too high and whether they’ve remedied that problem but I can’t go online and find out whether my kid’s employer passed their last safety inspection and, if they didn’t, what potentially life-threatening hazards are in that workplace?
It is a shame that no one from the government was available to comment yesterday on a news story generated by one of the government's own press releases... isn't generating press coverage of news the purpose of issuing a press release? I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any response and publish up a link.
-- Bob Barnetson