Today in Question Period, I asked questions about the death of Todd Maytwayashing, a 22 year old who died January 17th of this year while working on building a Manitoba Hydro transmission line running south from the Keeyask dam and its generating station. My questions and the Premier's responses are below. They can also be seen on video at this link.
Death of Manitoba Hydro Worker - Workplace Safety Measures
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, Todd Maytwayashing is a 22-year-old who worked at a Manitoba Hydro site near Gillam. He was involved in driving trucks to haul the steel pieces needed to build the transmission line to Keeyask. He was known as an amazing worker, a great worker and a young man of great promise. He apparently went to help a fellow worker on January 17th this year, and a poorly loaded metal bundle came down on top of him and killed him.
I ask the minister responsible for workplace safety what measures he has already taken so that no more of our sons and daughters will die like Todd Maytwayashing.
Hon. Brian Pallister (Premier): The minister's previously responded as best he can to this horrible event, this horrible situation that has impacted on this family in the most profound of ways.
I will endeavour and undertake on behalf of the family to get answers for them that they desire, and we will work very diligently to do so.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a supplementary question.
Mr. Gerrard: Yes, I thank the Premier.
I know this: Todd Maytwayashing did not have to die. His death was preventable. Procedures could have been taken to prevent his death. Barry Swan, Todd's father, who has worked in the same type of work his son was doing, is in the gallery today along with family members.
Todd's death is the third death at a Forbes Bros. worksite in the last year. Two others died due a deviation from a standard procedure.
Has the minister increased inspections at Forbes Bros. and Manitoba Hydro worksites, and what other steps has he taken to ensure no other Manitoba fathers or mothers will have to bury their son or daughter from a workplace accident?
Mr. Pallister: I've taken this issue on personally and seriously, Madam Speaker. I am not pleased with the absence of compassionate response and timely response in some areas for this family, and I will undertake and our government will undertake to get information for them.
But we will not use this situation for any political purposes, Madam Speaker. I encourage the member to accept our minister at his word in respect of his desires to see change and to investigate. He has undertaken to do so and I would hope the member would allow him to fulfill his responsibilities in that manner.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a final supplementary.
Mr. Gerrard: I thank the Premier again.
Manitoba Hydro had the responsibility for building the transmission line that Todd was working on and for making sure there was a safe environment for workers, and yet Manitoba Hydro has denied responsibility even though the accident occurred at a Manitoba Hydro marshalling site and may have involved loading done by Manitoba Hydro workers.
Manitoba Hydro, in the four months since, has not even made a call to the family to say they were sorry.
What is the minister doing to make sure that Manitoba Hydro is held responsible for workplace safety on its projects and in its marshalling yards?
Mr. Pallister: The member has just, in a couple of preambles, cast aspersions at the private contractor, at Manitoba Hydro, at Manitoba Hydro workers, and he himself has admitted in other parts of his preamble he's not in possession of the facts.
Madam Speaker, these are premature assertions at best. They are political opportunism at worst. There should not be these types of questions asked of this type of situation in this place. There is a desire on the part of this government to get answers for the family. That is what we will pursue. And I would encourage the member to confine his questions to those shared and desired outcomes rather than cast aspersions on others without possession of facts.
It is to be noted that the Premier provided no evidence that he and his Minister were concerned enough to order additional inspections as a result of the tragedy. Why is this? It is also to be noted that when Todd's father, Barry Swan, was asked in the media scrum about what happened during Question Period, he was upset that the Premier had accused me of being political. He made the point that he had not been able to get answers in the four months since the tragedy, and now political involvement was needed to get action. My goal is to prevent further tragedies and the government could and should have started taking steps, like the increased inspections, and insuring proper protocols are being followed, to prevent further tragedies.