I want to take the time to celebrate the people working in B.C.’s mining sector, for their continued hard work, especially this year, during the COVID-19 pandemic. I applaud their efforts to work every day in a safe and sustainable way, to help build an economy that works for people.
Labour Day is an important annual reminder of the hard-fought battles for workers’ rights; led in many cases by the unions representing these workers. Overtime pay, parental and sick leave, job security and protection from discrimination and harassment, as well as safety standards, are the result of a shared vision amongst those willing to take up the fight, a belief that all working people deserve to be treated fairly.
I am very proud of the recent actions of our government when it comes to strengthening the mining sector for people in B.C.
Last month, we brought in changes to better protect workers, communities and the environment that support mining and mineral exploration. The changes we introduced as part of B.C.’s Mines Act also make permitting and regulation more efficient and effective. This allows our government to better support the mining sector as we work together on our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
For too long, the Province didn’t have enough oversight when it came to mining practices. That’s why some of the changes we’ve made strengthen the Province’s ability to hold mines accountable with greater investigation authorities. We are making it clear what is considered an offence and lengthening the amount of time an offence can be considered for charges from three years to five years. The amendments also formalize the role of a new Audit Unit, with the job of ensuring B.C.’s mining regulations are effective and in line with global best practices.
Our changes also create more room for the chief inspector of mines to focus on mine health, safety and enforcement by establishing a new chief permitting officer, whose sole responsibility will be mine permitting. Efficient permitting and meaningful oversight are at the core of what my ministry does. Having distinct roles with dedicated responsibilities for each function will create an attractive mining industry in our province that is well resourced to meet world-class safety standards.
Mining is an important part of our economy and our government will keep working hard to support workers, communities and the environment.