On the first day back in the House of Assembly for the spring session, Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis began question period by asking about a case of sexual assault, with the accused said to be an employee of a subcontractor working on the Muskrat Falls project and the complainant also working on site at the time.
“I ask the premier if he is aware, and can he confirm, that an alleged sexual assault was reported at the Muskrat Falls site in November of 2017 and, as a result of that complaint, an on-site worker has been charged,” Davis said.
The minister responsible for the province’s Human Resources Secretariat, Tom Osborne — who was at the centre of the announcement last week of a new Harassment Free Workplace Policy for government, referenced by Davis — responded, saying it was the first he had heard of it.
Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady then said she was aware of the alleged sexual assault, having had a conversation earlier in the day with family members of the individual who reported it.
Coady said she has been in contact with Nalcor Energy, which received a report on Feb. 13 from an investigation by the sub-contractor. The contractor was not named in the exchange in the House or in subsequent answers to reporters’ questions.
The individual accused of assault is no longer at the site, Coady said, adding that the case is before the courts.
Coady said she was informed the complainant is also no longer working on-site, because her position was no longer required as the project needs have continued to change.
The minister has asked that be reviewed by Nalcor Energy, as part of continued follow-up.
Coady said family members called her and it was about general awareness of the case, but also to see what response there might be from the government and Nalcor Energy.
Davis said the family contacted his office after not hearing back from Coady right away.
“They were frustrated by the fact that they couldn’t get a response back,” he said.
There was discrepancy regarding timelines, with Davis saying the callback took Coady four weeks, and Coady saying it was about two, with the family’s call to her office coming Feb. 13.
Davis said he also wants to hear more about any response from the government and Nalcor Energy.
“Nalcor is the owner of the site, they are the overseer of the project, they have a level of responsibility. The minister, as the minister responsible for Nalcor, also has a level of responsibility. It should never be an independent contractor for whatever reason around the site that bares the full responsibility on this,” he said.
The Saltwire Network is following up on the case and subsequent exchange in the House of Assembly, and will have more information as it becomes available.