Failure to take reasonable safety precautions and provide adequate training can result in hefty fines
By Kirk A. Vilks, Fillmore Riley LLP
In the Q4 2013 edition of Piling Canada, James Wishart wrote about the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in R. v. Metron Construction Corp. (Metron). In that case, the Ontario Court of Appeal handed out fines to corporate defendants for criminal negligence that were large enough to potentially bankrupt the companies. It was held that that the courts should not take companies’ financial situation into account when determining fines for criminal negligence. More recently, Canadian courts have continued to follow this approach by awarding large fines without consideration of the financial implications for the companies
In 2013, the Ontario Court of Justice convicted Sunrise Propane Energy Group Inc. for multiple regulatory offences under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The judgement – R. v. Sunrise Propane Energy, 2016 CarswellOnt 3399 – pertained to an incident that caused propane explosions in Toronto in 2008 that killed a young worker and caused a fire.
There were a series of explosions that caused extensive damage to surrounding properties and injuries to neighbours. Some surrounding homes were left uninhabitable for over a year. Approximately 12,000 residents had to evacuate the area within a 1.6-kilometre radius. Local businesses were forced to close, and one nearby car dealership was completely destroyed. At the time of the explosion, there were two employees on site; one was able to escape with minor injuries, but the other was killed.