Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fines for fire-code violations to skyrocket under changes

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FINES for not following the province's fire code are rising substantially under a wider review of the province's worker-safety legislation, Manitoba's Labour and Immigration minister said Monday.

Erna Braun said the higher fines for violations such as failing to comply with the Manitoba Fire Code are in keeping with increased penalties under the Workplace Safety and Health Act and recently introduced legislation to protect workers in highway construction zones.

"We're committed to making sure our workers are safe," Braun said.

She said the new penalties for fire-code offences will help ensure more timely compliance with orders.

Under changes introduced Monday to the Fires Prevention and Emergency Response Act, maximum fines would increase to $125,000 from $1,000 for a first offence and $250,000 from $10,000 for a second offence.

The proposed maximum fines for a corporation would be $250,000 for a first offence and $500,000 for a second offence.

Braun said the steep increase is not the result of any incident or issue with property owners failing to obey the fire code, but aims to ensure all legislation protecting workers and the public is consistent.

In 2009, the province boosted the maximum fines for workplace safety violations under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

Fines for a first offence went to $250,000 from $150,000 and the maximum for subsequent offences rose to $500,000 from $300,000. Amendments introduced earlier this year expand the list of activities or offences for which penalties may be imposed.

Earlier this month, Braun introduced legislation to raise fines for speeders in highway construction zones even when no workers are present. The proposed fines would almost double the fine for speeding elsewhere.

Besides the fire code, the Fires Prevention and Emergency Response Act covers fire-safety inspections, regulations on the proper care of fire hoses, centrally monitored fire-alarm systems and fire-alarm monitoring agencies.

It also covers the the Manitoba Building Code, Manitoba Plumbing Code and the National Fire Code of Canada.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2013 A6

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