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Impact of the decision-making environment on policy responses to road worker fatality in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

Curt J. Pankratz


OBJECTIVES: Fatal accidents often lead to policy changes. However, the existing decision-making environment is critical to policy responses. This study compares the policy responses to similar events in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The key question explores the extent to which the policy decisions in each province differ despite the similarity of the events.

METHODS: Key documents were examined. Provincial court rulings, workplace health & safety incident investigation reports, court transcripts and police reports were used to compare resulting policy changes as well as the socio-political and economic decision-making context. Relevant clauses in resulting legislation were also compared to assess the specific changes that were made in each province.

RESULTS: In each province, a young, female highway construction worker was killed. However, the provinces responded in very different ways. In Saskatchewan, the Premier called for recommendations to improve worker safety, initiating an in-depth governmental study and the development of a broad safety strategy. In Manitoba, political and social pressures shifted the decision-making environment and contributed to the rushed passing of a bill focused on traffic fine increases that resulted in record-breaking traffic fine revenue while failing to include broader safety measures.

CONCLUSION: Different decision-making contexts can lead to vastly different policy outcomes even when responding to very similar events. Key differences included time constraints, access to information and the nature of the political process invoked.


Safety; accidents; police; workplace; Manitoba; Saskatchewan

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