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Report/Press release

Ontario construction death inquiry spurred by community and labour activists

Date

2010

Authors

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Abstract

The announcement by the Ontario government that it will appoint an expert advisory panel to investigate the slew of deaths and accidents at Ontario construction sites, “is welcome news as long as all stakeholders are at the table,” says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada

Series title

AWA E-News

Responsible institution

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Notes

The announcement by the Ontario government that it will appoint an expert advisory panel to investigate the slew of deaths and accidents at Ontario construction sites, “is welcome news as long as all stakeholders are at the table,” says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada.

“We’re encouraged that the voices of labour and community activists are finally being heard. That has to continue if the work of this panel is going to result in saving lives and reducing accidents.”

The province’s announcement resulted from an intensive campaign by migrant worker advocacy groups, such as No One is Illegal - Toronto, and labour unions in the wake of a Christmas Eve construction site accident in Toronto that killed four workers, and left a fifth worker in critical condition. All five workers had precarious immigration status in Canada.

“Shoddy equipment, weak enforcement and lax inspection are certainly factors. But underlying those concerns is the rampant abuse of migrant workers and their inability to raise workplace concerns because of their status,” says Naveen Mehta, UFCW Canada Director of Human Rights, Equity & Diversity.
“It is a national crisis. You have a federal Temporary Foreign Workers program that effectively encourages employers to treat workers like disposable commodities. The workers who died Christmas Eve had no effective ability to complain or go to the government, or to their employer and say ‘Hey! This is unacceptable.’ Time and time again we have seen that doing so has resulted in deportation.”

“It is an issue the Ontario expert panel can’t ignore,” says Mehta. “You should not be allowed to build profits on the bodies of migrant workers.”

Links

Economic sectors

Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations - general

Content types

Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

Public awareness

Regulation domains

Labour standards and Health and safety at work

Geographical focuses

Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, Other provinces, and Federal

Languages

French, English, and Spanish