Statement by Frank Klees on behalf of Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party
On the first anniversary of the tragic crash of an Ornge air ambulance helicopter, we have confirmation from the federal Ministry of Labour that Ornge air ambulance service has been charged with 17 offences under the Canadian Labour Code.
Four dedicated crew members lost their lives in that crash and we extend our condolences to the families of the Ornge Moosonee Crew 7793 members Captain Don Filliter, First Officer Jacques Dupuy, and Flight Paramedics Dustin Dagenais and Chris Snowball.
We regret the pain that this latest development must represent to the families and colleagues and we share in those emotions. But I am also convinced that those brave first responders would want us now to look forward with determination to ensure that we take the constructive steps necessary to prevent any similar tragedies.
These charges confirm what many of us believed was the case. Namely, that the tragic crash of May 31st, 2013 could have been prevented if Ornge and the Ministry of Health had exercised their oversight responsibilities.
Our commitment to the families and to the front line staff at Ornge, is that every step will be taken to ensure that the failures on the part of the Minister of Health, Deb Matthews, the Ornge Board of Directors and its Management, that were responsible for this tragic loss of life will be exposed and that those responsible will be held accountable.
The excuses and deflections of responsibility by the Minister of Health, Deb Matthews will not be accepted. The offences cited in the 17 charges were committed under her watch and under the watch of senior executives and a board of directors she directly appointed.
This is not about Chris Mazza. It is about Deb Matthews who must accept responsibility for failing in her oversight responsibilities as Minister of Health.
In January 2012, Deb Matthews appointed Mr. Ron McKerlie as CEO of Ornge and appointed a new board at Ornge. In March 2012, she announced the implementation of a new Performance Agreement and in July 2012 a new Air Ambulance Program Oversight Branch was appointed.
That was followed by the appointment of a new Chief Operating Officer in December 2012 who had responsibility to oversee all Aviation Operations. His first responsibility was to ensure that all safety measures and pilot training procedures were in place. He failed to do so.
The charges filed in court list 17 contraventions of the Canada Labour Code Part II that took place on May 31, 2013 – six months after Mr. Giguere assumed his responsibilities as COO and 16 months after the new CEO and Board had been appointed by Deb Matthews. The charges include:
“failing to train Donald Mark Filliter in accordance to COM 2.4 Direct Entry Captain, resulting in the death of Donald Mark Filliter and Jacques Dupuy”
“failing to provide pilots with a means to enable them to maintain visual reference while operating at night under, resulting in the death of Donald Mark Filliter and Jacques Dupuy”
“permitting Donald Mark Filliter and Jacques Dupuy to pilot an aircraft contrary to the company’s “Green-on-Green” Policy, resulting in the death of Donald Mark Filliter and Jacques Dupuy”
“permitting pilots to fly the S-76A helicopter without adequate training in the operation of that specific aircraft, resulting in the death of Donald Mark Filliter and Jacques Dupuy”
“failed to provide adequate supervision for daily flight activities at Moosonee, in contravention of Section 125 of the Canada Labour Code Part II, resulting in the death of Donald Mark Filliter and Jacques Dupuy “
“permitting an aircraft to be flown by a pilot with insufficient experience in night operations, resulting in the death of Donald Mark Filliter and Jacques Dupuy”
“permitting an aircraft to be flown by a pilot whose Pilot Proficiency Check on the S-76 helicopter was incomplete, resulting in the death of Donald Mark Filliter and Jacques Dupuy”
These charges confirm not only the Transport Canada investigations, but the reports from front line pilots and paramedics who, at risk of repercussion, reported their concerns regarding these issues to me.
As the record will show, numerous attempts were made to warn the Minister of Health, Deb Matthews, Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers of the risks at Ornge. They were ignored. I was accused by the Minister of fear-mongering.
These charges speak for themselves. Our commitment to the Ornge front line staff is that we will stand with them and will not rest until their health and safety is ensured and they have the necessary resources to carry out their calling to deliver essential emergency responses in our province.
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