Construction company charged in workplace fatality of First Nations man in Manitoba

An Edmonton-based construction company is facing seven charges under Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Act, stemming from a workplace fatality of a First Nations man in 2018, according to the provincial government.

After a year-long investigation into the death of Todd Maytwayashing, Forbes Bros. were notified of the charges earlier this month, said a spokesperson for the province.

The charges have been filed in provincial court but haven’t been sworn before a judge so they have not been made public.

The family was at a Winnipeg rally for the Annual Day of Mourning, a gathering to honour those who have lost their lives while on the job, when they spoke with APTN News about the recent charges.

Barry Swan said he’s “relieved” the investigation lead to charges in his son’s death.

“He would be here today if they could have prevented and assured safety,” he said.

In January 2018, Maytwayashing died while working on a hydro project in northern Manitoba.

Read: Lake Manitoba First Nation family seeking answers to son’s workplace death

Maytwayashing, who was originally from Lake Manitoba First Nation, was working for Forbes Bros who was contracted by Manitoba Hydro to build a transmission line from the Keeyask Generating Station to another nearby station when the incident occurred.

Swan says the 22-year-old was helping load steel beams onto a semi-truck when one of the beams fell and landed on his head.

The family has spent the past 15 months searching for answers and for justice.

“To date we have no information on the horrific event of the day,” said Swan. “That’s not shared with us yet so we have no closure.”

In Manitoba, a fatality on the job triggers an investigation by workplace safety and health officials.

But because the report has lead to charges, its findings will not be released as the matter is before the courts.

It could be another two years before the family gets a chance to see the report.

Swan hopes his son’s case will result in changes.

“[Todd] was only 22-years-old, trying to contribute to life and society and this is the ultimate price… not coming home.”

Manitoba Hydro says it is aware of the charges and will not be conducting its own investigation.

“We have and will continue to cooperate with Workplace Safety and Health as the process goes to a hearing,” Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said in a statement.

When questioned whether this would affect hydro’s relationship with Forbes Bros. Owen wrote, “it’s too speculative to discuss [hydro’s] relationship with Forbes.”

In a statement to APTN, a spokesperson for Forbes Bros. said the company has been working with Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health to enact changes.

“Since we lost our co-worker and brother Todd Maytwayashing we have been working… to review the situation and see where all the parties can improve to ensure something like this never happens again on a Manitoba worksite.”

“We cannot speak to the charges specifically as this matter is now before a hearing and we do not want to prejudice the process. Our commitment to a create a safe workplace every day at Forbes has not waivered.”

Meanwhile, Swan says he will be meeting with the crown attorney in early May.

 

Reporter / Winnipeg

Brittany joined the APTN news team in October 2016. She is Ojibway and a member of the Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba. Before coming to APTN, she graduated with a joint degree in communications from the University of Winnipeg and Red River College.