The family of a 22-year-old man killed while working on a Manitoba Hydro site nearly two years ago says it is still waiting for answers about the circumstances of his death.
Todd Maytwayashing was working for Forbes Brothers Ltd., a sub-contractor of Hydro, which was helping to build a transmission line at the Keeyask generating station near Gillam.
On Jan. 17, 2018, Maytwayashing reportedly noticed a bundle of steel improperly secured on a truck. When he went to help secure the bundle, the material came loose, struck him in the head and killed him.
When his family arrived at the scene the next day, it found the load had not been secured and work was continuing as usual.
Maytwayashing’s father, Barry Swan, said family has since been pressing the company, Hydro and the provincial government for details, with little success.
"After that, it’s almost like we’ve been a nuisance to everyone that should be helping workers get home safely," he said Thursday at the Manitoba legislature.
"We feel like we’re almost the people that caused this, yet, meanwhile, we’re supposed to be the victims. That’s how the family feels and how we’ve been treated all along. We’ve been told, ‘Don’t talk to anyone, you’ll mess up the investigation.’
"Like, how do we mess up the investigation when we’re not even involved or privy to anything?"
The company faces seven charges under Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Act.
Swan alleged the government and Forbes Brothers are negotiating a plea deal in which the company would pay $150,000 to the province for failing to ensure health and safety of an employee.
No money has been promised to the family, Swan said, adding they’re not looking for reimbursement.
"No one has come to us and said, ‘This is what happened.’ That’s all we want," he said. "If they think we’re going to sue them for money, all we want is the truth. Not their money. That’s what the family’s wish is."
In an email, Corey Papp, Forbes vice-president of corporate services, said company representatives met with Maytwayashing’s family four times to share information as it became available, most recently in February 2018.
Papp said the company "cannot speak to the charges or the findings of the investigation as the matter is still before the courts and we do not want to prejudice the process."
"We wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Swan that no family should ever have to go through something like this and, as a company, we are committed to providing our employees and subcontractors with the very best and safest work sites," he added.
Hydro said it isn’t in a position to comment on the court proceeding, noting Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health "was the lead agency in this matter, and we fully supported them in its investigation," spokesman Bruce Owen said by email.
"The tragic death of Todd Maytwayashing reinforces our commitment to safety every day and in every area of our operations," Owen said, emphasizing if anyone has safety concerns at one of their jobs sites to take them up with Hydro and any subcontractors immediately, so they can take "corrective action.
A provincial spokesperson offered condolences to Maytwayashing’s family, but said Workplace Safety and Health could not release specific details to the family due to the legal process.
"As the legal process remains ongoing and nothing has been finalized — no pleas have been entered or fines issued by the courts — we cannot comment further at this time," the spokesperson said.
Maytwayashing’s family has been working with the Manitoba Liberal party to try to shed more light on their son’s case. In a news conference on Thursday, Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont underscored "no one should ever lose their life at work."
"Every worker should be able to make it home safe at the end of the day, and it is critical that we enforce workplace safety laws," he said. "That hasn’t been done seriously enough."
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 11:05 PM CST: Updates headline, story