Northwest Territories Year in Review


Law of the Year

Distracted Driving

The NWT legislature passed a bill amending the Motor Vehicles Act to make it illegal to text or talk on hand-held devices while driving. The law, which lets people drive with hands-free devices used in a hands-free manner, takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.


Case of the Year

Power Company Fined $450,000 for Environmental Violation

A breach of a power company’s dike caused sediment to empty into Strutt Lake and the Snare River system. The company pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act by allowing sediment to be deposited into waters frequented by fish. The court fined it $450,000 [Northwest Territories Power Corp., Govt. News Release, Jan. 24, 2011].


Other Notable Cases

Company Penalized $185,000 for Release of Toxic Substance

After releasing NALCO 7390 (a substance used to reduce corrosion on piping) into a river over two months, a company pleaded guilty to a Fisheries Act violation. The court fined it $5,000 and ordered it to pay $155,000 to the Environmental Damages Fund. The company also pleaded guilty to violating the Northwest Territories Waters Act and was fined $25,000 [Imperial Oil Resources NWT Ltd., Federal Govt. News Release, Sept. 16, 2011].

Engineering Company Fined $34,500 for Worker’s Leg Amputation

At a utility’s dam, a worker’s lower right leg was amputated after a 40-tonne Bailey bridge fell and crushed it. An engineering company pleaded guilty to one violation of the Safety Act and was fined $34,500. Another company involved in the incident had previously pleaded guilty and been fined $63,250. And the utility settled its charges by agreeing to invest $100,000 in a safety training program for the territory’s entire construction industry [Mandeville Engineering, Northern News Service, March 23, 2011].

Bouncer Beaten By Colleagues Was Constructively Dismissed

After getting beaten up by two co-workers and the assistant general manager, a bouncer at a hotel bar didn’t return to work upon the advice of the hotel’s manager. An employment standards officer found that the bouncer had been constructively dismissed and ordered the hotel to pay him damages. The hotel denied constructive dismissal but an adjudicator ruled that the workplace was unsafe for the bouncer [Gold Range Hotel v. Hiesinger, [2010] CanLII 61331 (NWT L.S.B.), Oct. 11, 2010].