Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

July 13, 2012 05:00 ET

Media Advisory-OFL Expects Historic Sentencing of Negligent Company: Restitution Sought for Victim and Survivors

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 13, 2012) - The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is bracing itself for a historic verdict this Friday, when the sentence will be announced against Metron Construction. The company's criminal negligence led to the deaths of four workers and the critical injury of another when scaffolding collapsed at a Toronto high-rise on December 24, 2009. While the OFL has been vocal in its disappointment that jail time is not being considered by the court, the labour federation is hoping the company will be slapped with the million-dollar fine sought by the Crown and that the company's sole owner and director, Joel Swartz, is made responsible to pay it. The OFL is also calling for the fine to be paid as restitution to the surviving victim and the families of the fallen workers.

What: Sentencing Hearing against Metron Construction and Owner Joel Swartz
Where: Old City Hall (Court Room TBA), 60 Queen St. W., Toronto
When: 10 am, July 13, 2012
Who: OFL President Sid Ryan will be on hand for comment

No matter the outcome, Friday's sentence will make labour history for Ontario, and potentially Canada. The sentencing of Metron and its owner will mark the first time that an Ontario company has been criminally convicted for a workplace death or injury since the Criminal Code of Canada was amended twenty years ago. While two workplace cases have been criminally prosecuted in Québec, the fine imposed against Metron could set a Canadian record for a case of this kind.

The OFL launched its "Kill a Worker, Go to Jail" campaign shortly after the Christmas Eve tragedy in 2009 that shocked workers across the country. The collapse of a swing stage at a west Toronto high-rise resulted in five workers plunging 13 stories during construction repair. The OFL's campaign called for the vigorous use of the Criminal Code of Canada provision that enables the prosecution of corporate executives, directors and managers who act wrongfully or negligently.

"No penalty can deliver sufficient justice for this tragedy, but the responsibility lies with the court to send the strongest possible message to negligent employers that losing workers lives isn't simply the cost of doing business," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "Handing the fines over to the survivors of the victims would help them cope with their significant loss."

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

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