UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

August 19, 2011 12:01 ET

Another Jamaican Farm Worker Fatality in Ontario

Sixth Jamaican Migrant Worker Fatally Injured in the Past Decade

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 19, 2011) - A farm truck accident has claimed the life of a Jamaican migrant worker at an Ontario tobacco farm. The name of the worker has not been released, pending notification of his family. Including this recent accident, six Jamaican migrant workers contracted to Ontario farms have suffered fatal accidents over the past decade.

The latest death occurred earlier this week near a Paris, Ontario farm. The worker was killed while driving a pick-up truck towing a trailer packed with tobacco. The accident is still under investigation but preliminary reports indicate the man was fatally ejected from the pick-up truck when the rig he was hauling flipped off the road.

"We are saddened by this tragic death and extend our condolences to the family and community," says Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada. For more than two decades, UFCW Canada has led the campaign for improved safety, workplace and labour rights for agriculture workers in Canada.

"Was the truck in good repair? Was the trailer overloaded? The investigation will have to answer those questions," says Hanley. "What we do know for certain is that another farm worker has died, while the government stands by with no regulations or inspection system dealing with farm worker transportation."

"It is urgent the government take action before more farm workers are injured or killed."

More than 6,000 Jamaican migrant agricultural workers come to Canada each season under federally administered temporary worker programs. In 2002, Ned Pert, a 39-year-old Jamaican migrant worker at an Ontario tobacco farm, was killed when a tobacco bin collapsed on him. In 2005, William Bell and Desmond McNeil were killed near Delhi, Ontario when a car struck them while they were bicycling to the farm they worked at. And just a year ago, two Jamaican migrant workers at an Ontario farm died from exposure to toxic fumes while cleaning out a vat.

To date, no charges have been laid in that accident, and the Ontario Ministry of Labour continues to stonewall on releasing the findings of its investigation.

"The dangers and risks to farm workers should not be hushed up," says Hanley, the leader of Canada's largest private-sector union, which in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) operates ten agricultural worker support centres across Canada.

"Migrant workers make the sacrifice of leaving home to feed their families and our families. That sacrifice should not include being the victims of preventable accidents."

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