The Elliot Lake Mall Action Committee (ELMAC) said action should have been taken sooner to prevent the incident, which killed two women and injured more than 20 others.
Testifying last week at the Elliot Lake Inquiry, Assistant Deputy Labour Minister Sophie Dennis said that other jurisdictions and agencies had failed to prevent the collapse of the mall. Saying she was satisfied with the actions of the labour ministry, she confirmed that none of her officials had been charged or disciplined in the case.
“Ms. Dennis had a clear conflict of interest in investigating the actions of her own officials,” ELMAC chair John Pomerleau said in a statement. “Her investigation was cursory, and limited to a review of the reports filed by the ministry’s inspectors. Everyone has been thoroughly investigated by the Ministry of Labour, except the ministry itself. It’s not right.”
The Ministry of Labour inspection offices were housed in the Algo Centre Mall for 10 years, from 1985 until 1995. Action was taken by the ministry when a formal complaint was filed in April 1995.
According to the statement, in 17 years, more than 30 complaints of health and safety violations at the mall were filed with the Ministry of Labour. Although numerous inspections were conducted, no orders were ever made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to stop the roof leaks.