Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

February 08, 2012 15:32 ET

OFL: Migrant Workers Killed and Injured in Monday's Tragedy to Receive Workers' Compensation and Family Survivor Benefits

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 8, 2012) - Following discussions between OFL President Sid Ryan and Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) Chair Steve Mahoney, the Ontario Federation of Labour received confirmation that the victims of Monday's tragic head-on collision near Stratford will be covered by workers' compensation and their families will be eligible for survivor benefits. The OFL is calling for a full investigation into a tragic accident that left 11 dead and three survivors in critical condition.

"The WSIB should be commended for its quick and compassionate response to ensure that the survivors and the families of the victims aren't abandoned by the government. We wanted a commitment that these precarious workers would be covered by workers' compensation and we are very pleased to receive Mahoney's unreserved support," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "With compensation in place, the province should turn its attention to ensuring that a coroner's inquest takes place and that all levels of government work together to prevent this type of catastrophe from occurring in the future."

The terrible accident occurred on Monday night when a cargo van carrying migrant farm workers collided with a flatbed truck while the workers were being transported from their job site. Alarmingly, this tragedy mirrors similar accidents that have claimed workers' lives elsewhere in Canada in recent years. What sets it apart is the fact that it has claimed the greatest number of workers' lives in a single incident since the Westray Mine explosion that killed 26 workers nearly twenty years ago.

"While at first this might look like this was simply a traffic accident, when you scratch below the surface you will find that the most vulnerable of workers died while travelling in a van meant for cargo from one of the dirtiest and most unsafe occupations. It is appalling to know that the transportation of livestock is more stringently regulated than the transportation of workers," said OFL Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Hutchison. "This is a sober and tragic reminder of how far we have yet to go to protect the migrant workers who contribute so much to Ontario's economy and society."

In light of evidence of a number of other fatalities involving passengers riding in the same type of cargo van in Canada, the OFL is demanding a prohibition on the use of these types of vehicles to transport human passengers until appropriate precautionary safeguards become law.

"Workers across Ontario offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those whose loved ones were killed or injured in this devastating event. The first responders who provided emergency care at the scene deserve our respect and appreciation for their dedication under very traumatic circumstances," said Hutchison. "Ontario and Canada should pay respect to these workers by making sure that no other family has to go through such a tragedy."

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Contact Information

  • OFL
    Joel Duff
    Communications Director
    416-707-0349 (mobile) ENGLISH/FRENCH