·  Media Release   ·  

Five Fatalities at One Factory is Five Too Many: Steelworkers

TORONTO – Marty Warren, the United Steelworkers’ (USW) Ontario/Atlantic Director, says this week’s fifth gruesome fatality of a temporary agency worker at Fiera Foods Group’s bakery facility in North York is another tragic reason to better enforce 2004 Criminal Code amendments, known as the Westray Law.

“The Ontario Attorney General, Doug Downey, must direct police and prosecutors to investigate this company and lay charges,” said Warren. “It is unacceptable to rely simply on the Ministry of Labour to inspect this incident as an ‘accident.’ Five deaths since 1999 is a pattern, not a coincidence.”

News of the Fiera fatality comes at the same time the Ford government and the WSIB are giving yet another massive gift to employers in the form of a 17% premium rate reduction.

Warren said that, outside of Ontario, the USW campaign – Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law -- has made progress in other provinces into the way workplace fatalities are investigated and prosecuted under the Westray Law, which the USW fought to have enacted following the 1992 Westray Coal mine explosion that killed 26 workers.

“We need all governments to do a better job in establishing how law enforcement investigates how, when and why workers are killed,” said Warren. “These are potentially criminal acts and must be examined as such.

“In Ontario, there is little or no coordination between law enforcement and regulators under the Ministry of Labour. This means justice is rarely, if ever, served in Canada’s largest province. It gives too much freedom to employers to get away with fines as a cost of doing business. It has to stop.”

Nationally, the union has been meeting with Federal Department of Justice officials, the RCMP and others to develop online training for all police officers on how to investigate workplace death and injury through a criminal lens.

“Our efforts are bearing fruit,” said Warren. “But, as long as employers continue to evade prosecution and see workers’ lives as expendable, and see fines for their deaths as a cost of doing business, our campaign will continue.”

Fiera Foods markets its products globally, including under private label brands.

Find out more about the USW campaign Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, at stopthekilling.ca.


For further information:

Marty Warren, USW District Director, 416-243-8792
Sylvia Boyce, USW Health and Safety Coordinator, 905-741-9830; sboyce@usw.ca
Myles Sullivan, USW Assistant to the District Director, 416-243-8792, msullivan@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, bgallagher@usw.ca

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