This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
The B.C. Criminal Justice Branch has decided not to impose any criminal charges against Babine Forest Products in a 2012 sawmill fire in the community of Burns Lake, which resulted in the death of two workers and injuries to almost 20 others. In a statement issued on Friday, the branch revealed that there are very less chances of any conviction for regulatory offences recommended by WorkSafeBc, i.e. the province’s workers’ compensation board, mainly due to the way the agency investigated the incident.
It was explained that WorkSafeBC had not used a standard major case methodology during its investigation so important issues were left “partially or wholly unexamined.” Moreover, it was highlighted that the independent agency’s examination of the fire site were conducted as a safety-compliance investigation and not a possible criminal or regulatory probe, hence it did not obtain a search warrant authorizing search and seizure at the Babine site. Whereas, WorkSafeBC recommended the Crown to consider regulatory charges under the Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation against Babine as a corporate entity, and not against any individual officers or employees of the company.
The statement mentioned that the likelihood of a conviction is a key threshold for laying charges in B.C., as it added that “based on the evidence that would likely be available for presentation by Crown Counsel in court, there is no substantial likelihood of conviction for any of the regulatory offences recommended by (WorkSafeBC).”