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July 30, 2020

(Toronto)The following is a statement from Patty Coates, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour, regarding the death of OPSEU member Karen Gottschalk-Millar.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) mourns with the family, friends and colleagues for OPSEU Local 448 member Karen Gottschalk-Millar. The OFL sends our sincere condolences to all those impacted by this tragic loss.

This is truly a heartbreaking incident, and the Federation of Labour deeply mourns this unnecessary loss. Workers should not be subjected to unsafe working conditions, and more must be done to ensure that all workers are safe, and free of violence in the workplace.

As noted in a statement by OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, Karen was a valued and respected Residential Counsellor at a Kemptville group home operated by Pathways to Independence. She was the unfortunate victim of a homicide in her workplace on Friday night. The suspect arrested was a supported individual living at the home.

The health and safety of workers must be paramount at every workplace. If health and safety regulatory requirements were ignored or poorly implemented, there must be serious, even criminal, consequences. As with any workplace fatality the OFL is made aware of, we will write to the police service in the appropriate jurisdiction requesting that they investigate the incident under the lens of the Westray Law, Bill C-45, noting any criminal negligence by employers in failing to keep their workers safe.

For now, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Karen Gottschalk-Millar, during this very difficult time.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.

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