Transport Canada has fined Wainwright Marine $52,000 for its role in the 2021 sinking of the tugboat Ingenika near Kitimat, which claimed the lives of crew members Troy Pearson and Charley Cragg.
The decision has been met with outrage by the families and local politicians.
“I’m glad Transport Canada determined Wainwright Marine was negligent in its operations but I’m very disappointed the maximum fine for such negligence is only $60,000,” said Judy Carlick Pearson, the wife of Troy Pearson. “How will companies ever learn if they get a slap on the hand?”
The MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, Taylor Bachrach, says the fine is not enough to protect mariners. He has met several times with transport minister Omar Alghabra to push for action on tugboat safety.
“The minister says he’s working on new regulations but every day that goes by is another day mariners are at risk,” said Bachrach. “The minister should issue orders under existing legislation to improve safety while the full regulations are being developed.”
Currently, no certification is required for commercial vessels under 15 tons (or those modified to fit that class), no specific training is required for crew members, and there is no limit on the size of barges that can be towed.
“These penalties are only the start. Ultimately, we need to see change within Canada’s marine shipping industry, specifically related to the tugs and crews working tirelessly up and down B.C.’s coastal waters,” said Genevieve Cragg, the mother of Charley Cragg.
Families are hoping that the maximum fines will be raised from the current $60,000 cap.
“Our fight for justice isn’t over. We will continue to promote that more changes be made. Ultimately, fines of such a low value need to be increased to at least $250,000. If not, companies won’t feel the brunt and will continue to be negligent,” said Carlick Pearson.