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October 27, 2018

(TORONTO, ON) – The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) sends condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of a worker in his 40’s who was killed on October 25, 2018, when he was pinned between a tractor trailer and the loading dock at Upper Crust, one of a group of companies owned by Fiera Foods in Toronto’s west end.

It is sadly not the first time a temporary agency worker has been killed at a Fiera Foods operation.

In October of 1999 Ivan Golyashov, 16, was killed in an unguarded dough maker at Fiera Foods. He too was a temp agency worker. The company was charged by the Ministry of Labour (MOL) and received a $150,000 fine.

Then in December of 2011, just after midnight, another temp agency worker was killed on the grounds of the plant by a transport truck as it was backing up. A lack of barriers and lighting were blamed for that death and Marmora Freezing Corporation (Fiera Foods) was fined $150,000 dollars.

On September 2, 2016, Amina Diaby, 23, was killed when a conveyor belt caught a piece of her clothing and she became entangled in an unguarded machine. She had been sent to work at the Fiera plant by a temp agency and had been on the job less than three weeks when she was killed. The company was charged by the Ministry of Labour, plead guilty, and was fined $300,000 for her death.

Workers should not be subjected to unsafe working conditions.

The OFL, when made aware of any workplace fatality, writes to the police service in that jurisdiction requesting that they do a criminal negligence investigation of the employer into that worker’s death. In the case of Thursday’s tragic fatality, the OFL has written to this police division on three previous occasions and received a response that they do in fact investigate workplace fatalities with the potential of criminal negligence by the employer.

In 2004 the Canadian Criminal Code was amended by Bill C-45 and now provides special criminal negligence provisions for companies that disregard the health and safety of workers. The intent of the legislation is to hold employers criminally liable for the deaths of workers.

The OFL believes that every worker who is killed at work deserves to have their death investigated through the lens of C-45. Their families deserve to know the police have done more than rule out foul play, that they have looked at criminal negligence by the employer as a possible cause.

Too many employers treat temp agency workers as a disposable commodity, relegating them to precarious and dangerous work. Bill 148 passed by the previous government made improvements to labour and employment laws by providing some equity and protection for temp agency workers.

Just this past week the PC Government in Ontario introduced Bill 47, which if passed, will repeal these new protections for temp workers by removing the requirement to pay them the same as permanent employees.

These employers deserve to be punished, and this government needs to do more to prevent the injuries and deaths of temporary agency workers. The proposed legislation is woefully inadequate in protecting these vulnerable workers and holding employers responsible.

This leaves many with precarious employment, open to employer intimidation and harassment. Exploitive temp agencies can leave workers feeling vulnerable and unable to speak up for fear of losing their jobs even when they are concerned about unsafe workplaces. There is also the question of who is responsible for workers’ health and safety – the temp agency or the company where they work?

Bill 47 will roll back the enforcement of employment standards saying that Ontario is “open for business” when in reality, this bill tells employers that vulnerable workers are open for abuse once again.

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For further information, please contact:

Meagan Perry
Director of Communications,
Ontario Federation of Labour
mperry@ofl.ca l 416-894-3456

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