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November 2, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

Only criminal investigations into Markham and Sudbury workplace fatalities can reveal the truth behind the tragedies

(TORONTO, ON) ─ The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is calling on the Chiefs of Police in Markham and Sudbury to ensure that criminal investigations are conducted into recent workplace fatalities to rule out employer negligence as the cause of death.

“Were these tragic accidents the result of freak events or were they caused by calculated risks made by careless employers looking to cut corners? Only full criminal investigations can tell,” said OFL President Sid Ryan. “All too often, police investigators leave industrial accident scenes as soon as Ministry of Labour investigators arrive. The implicit assumption is that if there is no foul play it must be an accident, but proper police work should uphold a higher standard.”

In less than two weeks, two experienced workers in their fifties died in separate workplace accidents 400 kilometers apart. Today, an as yet unidentified Markham construction worker was crushed under a gas pipe at Highway 7 and Birchmount Road. On October 20, Richard Pigeau died when he was struck by a piece of equipment in Glencore’s Nickel Rim South mine 5,000 feet below the surface. No doubt, these two deaths will be among the roughly 80 that are expected this year, if provincial trends in workplace fatalities hold firm. Another 200 workers are likely to die this year because of occupational disease and tens of thousands more will be seriously injured in Ontario alone. Between 2008 and 2013, there was an alarming 36 percent increase in workplace fatalities across the province.

“It has been over ten years since Bill C-45 amendments to the Criminal Code allowed for the criminal prosecution of employers whose negligence causes the death or serious injury of a worker,” said Ryan. “During that time, only one Ontario company has ever received a criminal conviction and, to date, not one Ontario employer has gone to jail.”

“Ontario workers and their families deserve a radical shift in the police response to industrial accidents and it must start today. Each and every workplace fatality or serious injury must be investigated by the police through the lens of Bill C-45. After all, when criminal negligence results in a worker’s death, it is not an accident, it is a crime,” said Ryan. “The carnage in our workplaces will never stop until negligent bosses are marched out of their executive offices in handcuffs.”

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


For further information:

Sid Ryan, OFL President: 416-209-0066 or @SidRyan_OFL

Joel Duff, OFL Communications Director: 416-707-0349 or

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