News Release Archive

WESTRAY RESPONSE COMMITTEE--Response to Westray Inquiry Report
The province has accepted and will act on all 74 recommendations
of the Westray Mine Public Inquiry report, Transportation and
Public Works Minister Don Downe announced today.

Mr. Downe, chairman of cabinet's Westray Response Committee, was
in Stellarton today to release government's response to the

"We will make sure that the changes on paper translate to changes
in action," said the minister. "This government will do whatever
it takes to make our province a safer place to earn a living and
raise a family. We pledge to do our best so this type of tragedy
doesn't happen again. People should never have to choose between
a paycheque and their lives."

Highlights of government's response include:

- An independent panel will review the province's Occupational
Health and Safety (OHS) Division for competency, training,
motivation, management and independence. This review will be lead
by Ian Plummer, who provided advice to the Westray inquiry on
mining and safety matters. A similar review will take place in
the Department of Natural Resources.

- The Department of Natural Resources will no longer be both a
regulator and promoter of mines. Responsibility for mine safety
will rest clearly with the Department of Labour, using outside
expertise whenever required. No mine permits will be issued until
the mine is evaluated for safety.

- Government is actively pursuing an agreement with the federal
government on the sharing of inspection services for all
workplaces, including mine sites. Discussions are slated for

- The province has asked the federal government to look into
Criminal Code changes making corporate officials more accountable
for safety. The province will examine existing health and safety
rules on corporate accountability to see if they need to be

-Government will develop clear guidelines for ministerial
responsibility. There will be job descriptions and annual
performance reviews for all deputy ministers.
-Changes will be made to proposed regulations on underground
mining, and the OHS Act will be reviewed for amendments. The OHS
Advisory Council, organized labour and management will be

Government has also taken action on a number of issues beyond the
74 recommendations of the Westray report.

Labour Minister Gerald O'Malley released draft regulations to
strengthen the role of health and safety committees in the
workplace. Committees provide leadership on health and safety
issues and are required in all workplaces with 20 or more
employees. The draft rules are now available for public comment.
This is the first time for such a regulation in Nova Scotia.

A cleanup of the Westray mine site was also announced today by
Natural Resources Minister Ken MacAskill. The silos will be
dismantled, the portals will be secured, grass will be planted,
and other safety and environmental concerns will be looked after. 

The province is now in discussion with the federal government to
resolve all other issues related to the mine site. The province
will work to ensure that any future proceeds from the sale of
assets are directed to miners who have not received severance
from Curragh and to the municipality for lost taxes.

Government has also taken action on the issue of staffing.
Inspectors Albert McLean and Claude White, currently on leave,
will not return to work with the Government of Nova Scotia.
Current employees of Natural Resources referenced in the Westray
report have been suspended pending a independent review of
concerns raised by the inquiry.

"The entire system of the day failed the miners, their families
and all Nova Scotians on May 9, 1992," said Mr. Downe. "On behalf
of the province, I apologize for any role government may have
played. We are deeply sorry for the Westray disaster. It never
should have happened. While we can't change the past, we can
change the future."

Members of the cabinet committee met with the Westray families
group and representatives of organized labour during the process
of developing government's response. The minister committed to
regular updates on progress.

"The Westray report will not be put on the shelf," Mr. Downe
said. "It will remain on top of the agenda until all the issues
are addressed.  We owe it to the miners, the families and all
Nova Scotians."


Contact: Jennifer MacIsaac
         Westray Response Committee
         902-424-3219 or 902-456-3334

         David Harrigan
         Communications Nova Scotia
         902-424-2912 or 902-471-0225

NOTE TO EDITORS: Copies of government's response, titled Westray
- A Plan of Action, are available at Communications Nova Scotia,
902-424-4492, and the Government Bookstore, 902-424-7580 or 
1-800-526-6575. Both are located at One Government Place,
Granville Level, 1700 Granville St., Halifax.

ngr                Dec. 18, 1997                  10:00 a.m.