CP Rail worker speaks to the Global Workers Inquest about his experience with COVID-19 on the job

The following testimony for the Global Workers Inquest into the COVID-19 Pandemic is based on an interview conducted with a CP Rail engineer who wishes to remain anonymous. The name of the conductor has been withheld to protect his identity. It demonstrates how the Class I railroad has shown total disregard for the health and safety of Canadian rail workers during the pandemic, and how the trade unions and state institutions allegedly present to protect workers’ rights operate in favour of big business.

Are you a rail worker who would like to share your experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic? Contact the CP Workers Rank-and-File Committee at cpworkersrfc@gmail.com. The CP Workers Rank-and-File Committee was established by rail workers following the Teamsters’ sellout of their strike vote for improved working conditions in March.


I have been an engineer since 2006 and I have worked through lots of different scenarios over the years. Avalanches, disasters. I have been chased by bears. But by far the worst thing that ever happened to me was a potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. To this day, I do not know if I was actually exposed to COVID or not because they will not tell me. The company tries to deny it, but they have every reason to deny it.  

A Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive in Calgary, Alberta. [Photo by Jason Corbett) / CC BY 4.0]

My potential exposure to COVID-19

On October 8, 2020, a conductor, Jones, and I took the train to Field, British Columbia, and stayed overnight. The next morning, we get a call to bring the train back to Calgary. We get to the yard at about 1 p.m. but our train is in two halves. We have to stack them before we can leave. 

So, we get the train together. The RTC (rail traffic controller) on the radio gives us permission to go and arrange for the signal. I have to wait for Jones to walk up the length of the train. When he gets into the train, I notice he is out of breath and looking a little worse for wear but I put it down to the exertion from building the train. 

We get permission to leave Field and we pass the signal. I start climbing the spiral tunnel going up the Field Hill and I notice Jones is having a hard time breathing. I ask him if he is okay and he says, “No, I’m not.” I ask him what is wrong, and he tells me he cannot breathe. Then he begins sweating. His nose is running uncontrollably, and I ask him if he thinks he might have COVID. He says, “I don’t know, but it’s a possibility.” 

I get on the radio, I call the RTC and advise him what is going on. He tells me that he will get back to me. 

Within a few minutes, the RTC calls back and tells us to take the train to the first point where we can be relieved, which in his estimation is Lake Louise, about 45 minutes to an hour away. I am not very happy about it because there are places before the Lake where we can be relieved, but they are opting to take us to quite a distant location. 

We do not have any choice but to do as we are told. We are on the side of a mountain on a freight train. So, we proceed towards the Lake. The signals indicate that we are going to stop at Lake Louise, and we have advanced clearance to start our approach, which means the next signal should indicate a stop for a crew change. We have every expectation that we are stopping at Lake Louise. But as we approach, I am slowing down and I notice that the next signal is green, indicating for us to keep going. 

The RTC comes on the radio and tells us that the relief crew is being called from Calgary, not from Field, so we have to keep going eastwards and meet somewhere en route. I said, “That’s crazy. I have a guy here that’s sick!” I ask how much longer we are expected to operate the train under the circumstances where the conductor is sick and not fit to be at work and I am being exposed to him. The RTC gets angry at me: “I can’t tell you!” 

We proceed eastwards, past the clear signal and onto the next station, Eldon, about ten or 12 miles outside of Lake Louise. We are coming up to Eldon, the speed limit there is 50 miles an hour. So, I get the train up to 50 miles an hour and we are flying down the main line and the signal at the east end is a clear. So, I anticipate we are just going to keep going. I get a call from the RTC to bring the train to an immediate stop, do not pass the signal. I pull out the parachutes, put the rockets in reverse and bring the train to a stop. I tell him we have stopped. 

The RTC tells us that we are authorized to take out our phones and call CP’s internal pandemic line. But we are right in the middle of Banff National Park, and there is no reception. We get back on the radio and explain that there is no phone signal, and suggest we communicate over the radio instead. The RTC tells us that the pandemic line does not have access to the radio. I tell him that we need advice from a nurse or doctor who are experts in COVID.

We are told to inspect two passing trains going westbound. Even though we are not fit to be on duty, we are still expected to do a full job. We are there for about an hour at least. 

We go to the next station over at Massive, and the RTC tells us again that we can use our cell phone. Again, there is no coverage. We are still in the middle of Banff National Park! At this point we’ve been on duty for about four hours. I get on the radio and tell the RTC this is ridiculous. Where is the relief crew from Calgary? It is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Calgary to Field in a car. Is the relief crew actually on foot and walking to Field!? 

I ask him if this change-off is actually going to happen. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he says, “the crew is on its way ASAP.” In the meantime, I ask Jones how he is doing, and he is not doing well. He is getting sicker, and I am getting more exposed to him. I am concerned about him, he is concerned about me, but we have to operate this train. 

I get on the radio to the RTC again. He tells us that we have to take the train to either Canmore or Gap (the next station after Canmore). 

We get to Gap and now we have been on duty for 6 hours. The RTC puts us on the siding and here we actually do get access to a phone signal. So, Jones phones the pandemic line and he is told he has to be tested ASAP and regardless of the outcome, he has to go into quarantine for two weeks. I phone the pandemic line and say, “What about me?” They ask me if I am showing any symptoms. I say, “No, but I’ve only been exposed to him today.” As I understand it, it could take 15 days to develop symptoms. 

They tell me that if I am not showing symptoms, I am okay to keep working. I say, “No, I’m not. This is just not on.” 

We expect that Gap is the place where we are going to be relieved by the new train crew. After six hours, that train crew had time to go to Field and back three times! So, I figure they must be arriving soon. Then the signal changes for us to leave. 

I tell Jones we are not leaving; we are going to get changed off. The RTC gets on the radio and asks why we are not moving. I tell him we are waiting for a crew to relieve us. “I’m afraid that you’re going to have to leave Gap and proceed to the next station and do the change off there,” he says. I ask him, “Why can’t we do it here?” But he just repeats that we have to take the train from Gap to the next station. I look at Jones and ask him what we should do. 

Jones tells me we should just go, that it is not far to the next station, Ozada. Let us just get to Ozada. As we leave the siding, a senior manager at CP comes on the radio to tell us that we have an instruction from Senior Vice President, Greg Squires, that we are to bring our train back to Calgary in order to minimize exposure of COVID to other people. 

I basically blow my stack. I yell into the radio, “What the f* are you guys doing? I got a guy here who’s sick, I’m exposed to him, this is not safe!” I advise them that we need to go into a siding, get off this train, go into separation from each other, and a properly trained crew needs to come and disinfect this entire cab. I told them that in the meantime, they can call a taxi for me and an ambulance for my conductor, give us access to care, and once all that is done, bring out the second crew to take over the train. So, on the fly, I came up with the protocol of what CP should do but they completely ignored it. 

I look at Jones and ask him what we should do. Do we just stop and invoke the right to refuse unsafe work? He tells me that if we do that, there is no guarantee that they are going to rescue us anyway, so it is going to be quicker to bring the train back to Calgary. To wait for a relief crew that has not even been sent out yet would take another two-and-a-half to three hours. Jones also tells me that he does not want a target put on his back, that he has only got a year to retirement and cannot afford to be fired now. 

I expect now that we are going to get all clear signals and fly back to Calgary. But no, the RTC puts us on the siding again and we have to inspect three more passing trains at Ozada, Radnor, and Keith. So, it takes us another four hours to get home. In total, from Field to Calgary, we were on duty for the full 10 hours, like it was a normal shift. 

The fact is that we got tricked into finishing our shift. The company had no intention of relieving us. And for six hours, they told us that our relief was on its way. Then they change that story and told us to bring our train back to Calgary without any assistance in order to mitigate any further exposures to anyone else. 

Arriving in Calgary

We get the train back into Calgary and I expect there will be a crew waiting there to clean it, but there is not. Jones and I must bring the train into the yard, tie it down and apply brakes. I get off the train and I am putting the brakes on, and Jones is doing the other side. We are just trying to get this done fast so we can get off duty. 

We get back to the main office and there is a big notice on the door: “If you are showing or suspected of being exposed to any symptoms of COVID, you are expressly forbidden from entering this building.” We are not allowed into any property owned and operated by CP. We have taken the train for them under these very dangerous, adverse circumstances back to Calgary and we are not even allowed to get changed and get our car keys! I get one of the other guys in the area to go into my locker for me. 

I am driving home, and I am really quite frightened. I have just been through a very surreal experience. I do not know if I have got COVID. I do not know if I am going to live or die. The same for my conductor. We have no idea what condition we are in. I tell my wife that I am going straight into the basement when I come home, and I am going to live there until further notice because I do not know if I am infected or not. 

On the way home, I phone the pandemic line, which has closed down for the night. CP Rail is a 24/7 operation, but the pandemic line works during banker’s hours only, apparently. I leave a message. I get a call back about 07:30 the next morning and I explain what happened to us. 

The individual I speak to agrees that our situation was abysmal, that it should not have happened, and someone will get in touch. Later on, I get a phone call from Tina Sheeves, the general manager for CP’s prairie region, and she is quite contrite. She tells me that the reason this happened is because there is not any protocol for the relief crews on trains affected by COVID. 

I ask her, how can you not have a protocol? If a person has a heart attack on a train, there is an emergency protocol. It is the same protocol, is it not? Whether it is a heart attack or a broken arm or a COVID exposure, the response should be the same. Medical assistance, an ambulance at the very least is sent out. She says, “Well, there’s no protocol. Give me a few days and I’ll come up with one and I’ll get back to you.” 

The next day, I get a call back from this guy at the pandemic line and he tells me if I am not showing any symptoms, I am okay to keep working. There is no testing, no isolation required for me, nothing. I tell him that is unacceptable, that I should be off work for as long as my co-worker is until we know what is going on. He tells me I have to keep working. 

Shortly after, I get a call for my next train to Red Deer, which is way off the beaten track, for the next day. Normally, I just go to Field and back. But because they had no crews to go north, I was sent. I tell them that I have just had a potential COVID exposure, and I could be spreading this virus from Field all the way to Red Deer. Again, they tell me that if I am not showing any symptoms, I am obliged to keep working. 

Trying to get answers from CP Rail

I phone the union and they tell me that if I’ve been called for work, I have to go. I tell them this is nuts! 

I come back from Red Deer a few days later and I still have not heard anything back from CP about the protocol. So, I send out some emails. By the following Friday, I get an email that the advice the company gave me about Jones being tested and being off work for ten days was bonafide information and that if we had any doubts about our safety, we had the right to refuse unsafe work. 

So basically, Jones and I are being victim-shamed and blamed for our own situation. I agree that I have the right to refuse unsafe work, but what gives them the right to put me into an unsafe situation in the first place? They did not answer that. I sent a long email to CP Rail chief executive Keith Creel, and I told him what had happened from start to finish. This was not the first time he had heard from me. This was the latest in a series of emails between he and I in relation to COVID. 

“I’m very concerned that this happened,” Creel says. “I’m praying for your continued health and I’ll look into this right away.” I ask him to convene an investigation into the event and he assures me he will do that right away. 

He tells me I am going to hear from his right-hand man, Vice President Mark Redd. After a few days, I get another email from Creel telling me that he is still looking into this, and that Redd had done an investigation and wants to present his results to me. 

Then I get an email from Creel telling me that he and his trusted right-hand man Redd were both very insulted that I had gone over Redd’s head and gone straight to Creel. Creel tells me everything has to go through Redd in the future, even though I had previously written to Redd in relation to COVID concerns in the workplace and he had done nothing. But Creel wants to keep everything at arm’s length to maintain this notion of plausible deniability. That way he can claim to know nothing about what was going on and maintain this air of separation between him and the operations. 

Three weeks later, I get an email from Redd demanding a face-to-face meeting at CP headquarters in Ogden Park. He tells me that he has completed the investigation and he wants to present the results. 

After my potential COVID exposure, I become ill with diabetes. I never had diabetes before and all of a sudden I get very ill with it and ended up in the hospital. I am told it is a result of stress. So now I am stuck with diabetes for the rest of my life, I take the medication and everything. 

So, when Redd calls me, I am actually off sick. I ask him if we can do the meeting electronically, because if the only thing he’s doing is presenting objective results, it would be quite straightforward to do by Zoom. He tells me that our meeting has to be face-to-face. I suspect that I am about to be fired, because I have been here before with the same people. This is not my first rodeo, and I was fired before under very similar circumstances. 

No help from the Teamsters union

I was very concerned about what was about to transpire at the meeting with Redd, so I wrote to the union and asked for their help. I tell them that I have got the second in command of CP demanding an in-person interview at Ogden Park and that I suspect he is not going to be very friendly and that I think I am going to get fired. The union tells me they are not going to send anyone to go with me and advises that I go to the meeting alone and that if anything untoward happens they would intervene at that point. I tell them this is not good enough. 

The local union guys are very inexperienced and useless, and I would not have trusted their presence at the meeting. I needed somebody of a senior rank to offset whatever authority Redd perceived he had. So, I phone around to all the union reps and cannot find anybody to go with me. In my desperation, I phone Tom Dougherty, the legislative representative for the TCRC (Teamsters Canada Rail Conference) in Alberta. 

Much to my amazement, he agrees to attend. I found out afterwards why he agreed to attend. It was because he and Redd sat on a committee to develop all the COVID protocols and they omitted to develop a protocol for crews en route. So, Dougherty was in a conflict of interest by going into this meeting because he was part of the problem. But I realized all this in hindsight, once everything had gone down. 

The pandemic line had told me that the policy they were following was in accordance with provincial public health. But there was no internal procedure in place at CP per say and there was no facility for COVID testing in the workplace. (Actually, that was one of the suggestions I put forward to the company, that we get tested before we go on duty and after we get off duty, which could be days later.) 

Because of the fact that we travel right across the country and because of the importance of the railway in supplying the infrastructure of the nation, I thought it would be quite an important thing for them to try and protect train operators from COVID as much as possible. But hundreds of people have been infected on the railway and the company did nothing to mitigate the risks. 

In my particular case, they made a definite overarching decision that we would not be rescued, and that train was going to keep moving at all costs. They had no concern whatsoever for our health and safety as it was more important to operate that train from A to B. They made a conscious decision not to render assistance. There was a risk to life and limb, showing that they acted with intent and there are laws in place to prevent this such as the Westray Act. 

As far as I am concerned, this was a criminal offense, an assault, and everything that has occurred after that has been basically an obstruction of justice because it has been designed to try and bury that crime. 

CP Rail Executive Vice-President Operations Mark Redd [Photo: CP Rail ]

I go to this meeting with Redd and I’m expecting the very worst. I have no expectations that anything positive will emanate from it and I was exactly right. Right off the bat, Redd goes on the offensive. He scolds me for going over his head to Creel and tells me that he is the man in charge and if I had any concerns I had to go to him first. 

He tells me that he has looked into my incident and concluded that the company did everything right, that the only thing that they did wrong was to tell us that we were going to be relieved when we were not and that we were on duty for too long. But apart from that, everything else was fine. So, I push back and tell him that this is crazy. This is not acceptable. 

Dougherty is basically sitting on the fence the whole time. He keeps repeating, “I understand and agree with everything that you’re saying but the company has its point of view, too.” I say, “Tom, whose side are you on? If you’ve got nothing to add that is constructive, then just be quiet.” 

In theory, Dougherty is there to protect my interests but in practice he is there to protect the cozy interaction between him and Redd, between the union and the company. So, the meeting goes south very quickly. I say to Redd, “Look, it isn’t very often that an engineer at the bottom ranks of the company is called in for a meeting with the second in command of the company. How often does one of the plebeians get to speak to one of the gods of the company?” He replies, “Don’t you call me a God! I’m not a God! Why are you calling me a God!” 

Tom asks me if we thought we were in any danger, why did not we invoke our right to refuse unsafe work? Here we go again, I think. I have got to explain this again and again. We had no choice. This was our only way to get off duty. We were lied to all along the way. I tell them that if the company and the union are advising me to invoke the right to refuse unsafe work on a consistent basis then I would do it all the time because I am confronted with unsafe conditions all the time. Mark Redd says, “That sounds like you’re making a threat.” So now I am being accused of making threats at the company! 

I am not making any progress here. I tell them that, obviously, the people in this room are stacked against me. Then Dougherty says, “That’s it. I’ve heard enough today. I’ve got a lot of things to do other than this. I’m leaving.” He says, “Good luck,” and walks out the door. My conversation with Redd continues for about 10-15 minutes after Dougherty leaves. Redd tells me that if I am not happy, I should resign. So, I get up, thank Redd for his time, and walk out. 

I am absolutely devastated. I am off sick as it is. I should not have been in that meeting anyway, but they insisted I be there. I went there in good faith, expecting for my incident to be addressed. Instead, I was just attacked by CP and abandoned by the union. It was a disaster on every level you can think of. 

I phone Dougherty and blast him. I say, “How dare you get up and walk on me, how dare you not be prepared to represent my interests!” He hangs up on me. 

I write a complaint about Dougherty to the TCRC and the president, Lyndon Isaak. He writes back and says he believes Dougherty’s version of events (lies from start to finish) and the complaint I brought against him was baseless and without merit. It is clear he is out to cover for Dougherty. 

Confronting a cover-up

It is December now, a couple of months after the COVID exposure event. I go to HR at CP and they arrange for me to have a meeting with one of their investigators. This time, a local union rep agrees to come with me, but when I get there, there is no sign of him. I call him and he tells me he is not coming, that this is not his field. This is twice that Teamsters have let me down really badly. 

I am in the HR meeting alone. The investigator tells me, “I work for HR, I get paid by CP, but I’m completely impartial, unbiased, and I’m going to do an objective investigation. Do you agree?” I say, “No, I don’t.” I tell him that I am prepared to proceed today because I want it on the record what happened to me, but I do not think that his impartiality, objectivity and competence can be assessed until this investigation is completed. I provide a full statement about what happened. 

In late December, he calls me to explain that his investigation is complete, but I have to sign off on a document that attests to its impartiality and competence, otherwise he won’t release the results. I tell him I am not signing off on anything unless I see the results first. The chances are the investigation was not fair and impartial. Redd, the executive vice president was supposed to do an objective, impartial investigation and obviously didn’t. The investigator refuses to give me the results. 

Four months pass. I happen to catch on the grapevine that this individual no longer works for HR and apparently he is working at Starbucks now. He had only been there a year! So, I write to CP and tell them that this individual no longer works for you, I want to see the results of his investigation. They write back to tell me that this individual was a competent and impartial investigator but because of privacy, they are not prepared to release the results. I push them on it, and they disclose that my allegations were “unsupported.” 

During this time, I also make a complaint to Transport Canada explaining what happened. They agree that my COVID exposure should not have happened, that it was unacceptable and that they are going to conduct an investigation.

Transport Canada headquarters in Ottawa [Photo by Hoice / CC BY-SA 4.0]

About a week later, I receive a call back from a Transport Canada employee telling me that my meeting with Redd constituted violence in the workplace and that it was a criminal event. So, I make a separate complaint to Transport Canada in relation to the workplace violence. But over the course of a few emails, they stopped speaking with me and taking my calls. They will not even take a statement from me. I have never given any formal statements to anyone about this except at that HR meeting. 

Finally, Transport Canada writes back explaining that an investigation was conducted by them and CP was found to be in full compliance with all aspects of the Labor Code. This matter is now closed, they say. 

I ask Transport Canada how this matter can be closed when my internal complaint processes (ICPRs) are still open? They were only at the first stage of a three-part process, and I have received no conclusion on them. Transport Canada itself told me that I was a victim of workplace violence! 

I get MP Blake Richards (Conservative Party) to write to Transport Canada and he gets a reply from the Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, which was forwarded to me. It states that my complaints have been fully investigated, that CP is in compliance with the Labor Code and this matter is now closed. I write back to Richards and say it cannot be closed, there are still outstanding ICRPs! 

Richards tells me that this is the best he can do, there has been correspondence from the Minister of Transport himself. So, I write to ESDC (Employment Service Development Canada and Employment Standards) and tell them that Transport Canada is not doing its job properly and CP is trying to hide this criminal event. 

They agree this is terrible and instruct me to file more ICPRs but with them, so I send them all these complaints about CP and Transport Canada. Then I get a call back from ESDC to tell me that they are in receipt of these complaints, and they have sent them to Transport Canada to investigate. So, Transport Canada is now tasked by another department in government to investigate Transport Canada. They are investigating themselves! 

It is now April of 2021. I get an email from Transport Canada. They’re going to go back to CP and investigate my original complaint. I tell them I do not have any faith in them whatsoever to conduct a proper investigation. The Minister of Transport himself told me that CP is in full compliance. I ask them when can I give a statement. “Oh, we don’t need any further statements from you,” they say. But how can an investigation be done without taking a statement from the complainant? They just point-blank refused. To this day, I have not given a single statement to Transport Canada. 

Transport Canada does their investigation and tells me that there were no incidences of workplace violence or other offenses, even though earlier they claimed otherwise and had even supplied me with information to file a complaint. 

But they do acknowledge that Redd bullied me during our meeting, so they issue a directive to CP to do an investigation into allegations of workplace violence in relation to Redd. They also issue an assurance of voluntary compliance to CP due to the lack of a protocol for COVID on trains. 

CP Rail undermines the investigation

CP appeals the directives. But at the same time, they are appealing them, they offer me a fresh investigation with an individual from outside the company. They have retained someone from the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, an individual named Rachel Turnpenny, a lawyer in Toronto, to conduct another investigation into my complaint. 

But they give her these very tight parameters. She is not allowed to examine any of the protocols in place at CP. She is not allowed to look at any of the internal processes. She can only do an investigation into Redd and Squires, who was the vice president who had told us to bring the train back into Calgary. 

I ask Turnpenny if she is trained to investigate health and safety breaches in the workplace. She tells me she is. So, I go back to CP and ask them why Rachel is not allowed to look at the internal protocols and the processes. They tell me that she is not trained or qualified or experienced enough to understand the protocols in place on the railway.

I tell them that I cannot comply with this. This is insane. I cannot go into a meeting whereby the investigator is already shackled before we even go in there. CP puts the screws on me, and I finally give my consent to the investigation. However, I enter the caveat that I do not believe it will be objective and impartial. At that point, Turnpenny refuses to take part and the investigation just falls apart. If it had gone ahead, Turnpenny would have discovered that there was no protocol in place for COVID for the crews on trains and this was something that CP was desperate to avoid. 

But the directive to investigate remains a problem for CP. They apply to CIRB (Canada Industrial Relations Board) for a stay for the directive. There argument is that the stay should be allowed because the guy who now works at Starbucks conducted an impartial and objective investigation. 

The application for a stay has to meet three distinct criteria: It had to ensure that this matter has been addressed and it will not be repeated; that all workers are safe and that there is no further risk; and that the employer is in compliance with that. They did not meet any of them, but the stay is allowed anyway. 

I was not invited to the hearing. I was not allowed to give any evidence of my own. The Board had representatives present from the union, Transport Canada, and CP. But me, the complainant, was not invited to attend! I ask the union how the hell is this stay being allowed, and they never responded. 

I phone the Labor Board and I ask, why was this stay allowed? Why was I not invited to the hearing? They tell me that this guy named Trevor Craig from Vancouver made a mistake and forgot to invite me. I tell them that if he forgot to invite me then that hearing process was compromised and should be done again. I am told, “No.” 

I appeal the stay. CP puts forward this claim that I tried to exert an inappropriate amount of control over their investigation process, that their investigation was perfectly right from the outset and any information that I would offer to counter that assertion is not pertinent to the issue at hand. 

However, the assurance of voluntary compliance is accepted by CP, signed by Squires himself. He had ordered us to stay on the train. For me, this acknowledgment is a bit of a minor victory. I mean, it does not go far enough because it does not deal with the criminality and the brutal response to our distress while we were abandoned on that train. All that was ignored. But their acceptance of the voluntary assurance of compliance proves that there was no COVID protocol in place at CP. 

Transport Canada informs CP that they have to introduce the protocol by the end of 2021, but, to my knowledge, that was never done. I cannot say it was not for sure, because I have not been in the workplace for a while. But I have never been given any written confirmation of that fact from the union or the company. 

“We don’t have jurisdiction”

I finally go to the RCMP. I make a complaint to the same officers that were conducting the investigations into the Field Hill wreck. They tell me that what happened was criminal, but that this was not their jurisdiction. My complaint lands at the detachment in Cochrane, Alberta, where I live, and an officer calls me for a statement. They also won’t meet with me in person, so I give the statement over the phone for two-and-a-half hours. The corporal tells me that he doesn’t know if this was a criminal offense or not, and that he is going to pass it on to his constable in Edmonton. 

The CP Rail train which derailed at Field Hill, BC in 2019, killing three crew (Credit: Transportation Safety Board) [Photo: Transportation Safety Board]

The COVID exposure that CP Rail insists never happened

After Christmas 2021, I receive a phone call from the constable to tell me that he has looked into my case and it is not a criminal offense. I ask him how can it not be a criminal offense? You cannot leave somebody trapped in a confined space with somebody who is sick and not render any assistance. He tells me it is a civil matter and that I had the right to refuse unsafe work. Here we go again! 

The question of jurisdiction comes up a lot. When my incident first happened, I phoned Alberta Health Services and they told me that this should not have happened, it is against their policy, but they have no jurisdiction, that I have to go to Labor Canada. 

I go to Labor Canada, and it is the same response: “This should not have happened, but we have no jurisdiction, you have to go to Transport Canada.” What is interesting here is that the Minister of Transport himself said that CP had been subject to an investigation from Transport Canada and that they were in compliance with the Labor Code and that this matter was now closed. But after he put that in writing, Transport Canada issued an assurance of voluntary compliance and the directive, the exact opposite to what the Minister of Transport himself had initially said! 

This actually proves that there is collusion at the very top level between the company and Transport Canada. As far as I am concerned, this is a criminal offense, an obstruction of justice, if the Minister of Transport is saying that there is no case to answer and then his own personnel issue assurances of voluntary compliance and directives because the respondent is on the wrong side of the Labor Code. There is something pretty bad going on there.