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January 31, 2018

(TORONTO, ON) ─ Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Chris Buckley commended yesterday’s appeal decision for Metron Construction Project Manager Vadim Kazenelson, calling it a confirmation of a historic decision that sends a strong message to every employer in the province.

In January of 2016, Ontario Court Judge, the Honourable Ian MacDonnell, sentenced Kazenelson to three and a half years in jail for each of the four counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count causing bodily harm, following the tragic collapse of a swing stage at a Toronto high-rise on December 24, 2009. The sentences will be served concurrently.

A panel of three judges issued their decision on the Kazenelson appeal yesterday dismissing it.

“The message from the original Ontario court decision and this appeal decision echoes the campaign of the Ontario Federation of Labour: if you kill a worker, you will go to jail,” said Buckley. “No prison term or financial penalty can bring back the workers who died or undo the pain felt by their families, but this sentence has the power to prevent other workers from suffering a similar fate.”

The OFL launched its “Kill a Worker, Go to Jail” campaign immediately following the Metron tragedy in 2009, to demand jail time for bosses whose criminal negligence results in a worker’s death. The campaign saw success in 2012 when Metron Construction received Ontario’s first criminal conviction since the Criminal Code of Canada was amended in response to the 1992 Westray Mine Disaster. While the company was fined over a million dollars, the company’s sole owner and director, Joel Swartz, escaped criminal conviction altogether. In June 2015, an Ontario Superior Court found the Metron Project Manager, Vadim Kazenelson, guilty of five counts of criminal negligence. At the January 2016 sentencing hearing, Judge MacDonnell made clear that his decision to apply a significant term of imprisonment was meant to denounce the Metron manager’s failure to prevent “manifestly dangerous conditions” and carry a strong message of general deterrence to other employers in the province.

“This jail sentence was a historic verdict and marked the first time an Ontario employer faced criminal consequences for negligence causing the death of a worker,” said Buckley. “This has meant that employers can’t simply chalk up a worker’s life as a cost of doing business. The OFL will not stop campaigning until employers who put workers lives at risk, find themselves doing hard time in jail.”

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

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For further information contact:
Rob Halpin, Executive Director
Email:  rhalpin@ofl.ca
Phone: 416-707-9014 (cell)

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