Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 26, 2012 - 10:43 am

Baker Lake MLA asks if Nunavut mines inspected for worker safety

“Environment and safety are predominantly in the back of the minds of Nunavummiut”

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

Baker Lake MLA Moses Aupaluktuq says he’s concerned about whether mines are inspected to make sure they respect worker health and safety standards — particularly since asbestos was detected in dust samples at Agnico-Eagle’s Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake.

Speaking Oct. 25 in the Nunavut legislature Oct. 25. Aupaluktuq wanted to know if the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission has been in contact with Agnico-Eagle on the issue.

“Environment and safety are predominantly in the back of the minds of Nunavummiut and beneficiaries,” he said during question period.

Nunavut legislation requires that mines be inspected and that mining companies follow legislation, Lorne Kusugak, the minister responsible for the commission, said in reply to Aupaluktuq’s question.

“No one should be forced into an unsafe situation, and that includes workers everywhere, whether it is in the mining sector or others,” Kusugak said.

All workers have the right to work in safe areas and the public has to understand the act no matter where they’re working, Kusugak said.

Government officials work with mining companies to make sure they follow the mine health and safety act, he said.

But there are more than just safety concerns, Aupaluktuq said.

Sometimes when people speak different languages at the mine they don’t understand each other and discrimination occurs, he said.

Aupaluktuq wanted to know how both those issues are dealt with and how often they are investigated by the commission.

“Nunavut is anticipating the opening of new mines across the territory. As we look forward to new opportunities, we must not lose sight of the rights of our workers,” Aupaluktuq said, referring to language rights and health and safety rights.

The owner and manager of a mine should not discriminate in any manner, Aupaluktuq added.

Kusugak said he would look into the matter.

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