Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

November 22, 2013 15:37 ET

OFL Says Conviction of Roofing Company CEO Sends Message to Bosses: If You Kill a Worker, You'll Go to Jail

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 22, 2013) - The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Sid Ryan applauded yesterday's Ontario Court conviction of roofing company owner, Paul Markewycz, for a 2011 workplace tragedy that claimed the life of a worker.

"I hope this jail sentence sends a chill down the spine of every boss who puts profit ahead of workplace safety," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "Every year 80 Ontario workers are killed in workplace tragedies and nearly 250,000 more are maimed or injured. The only way to stop this carnage in the workplace is to march negligent employers from their boardroom to a jail cell."

This conviction follows an OFL campaign, called "Kill a Worker, Go to Jail," that was launched 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 four workers plunging 13 stories to their deaths and a fifth was seriously injured. Last year, Metron Construction received Ontario's first criminal conviction for workplace negligence and the company's fine was tripled this September to $750,000.

"We are very happy with this court decision. There is no question that workers and their families will sleep better tonight knowing that negligent bosses are finally going to jail," said Ryan. "However, this decision does not go far enough. This employer should be facing criminal charges in addition to Occupational Health and Safety violations. A mere 15 days in jail and $50,000 fine does not send a strong enough message. A worker's life should be worth far more."

This week's Ontario Provincial Court decision followed the August 16, 2011 death of an employee of Roofing Medics, while conducting a new roofing project in Toronto. The worker fell six metres to his death while wearing protective clothing but no harness. During the subsequent police investigation, company owner Paul Markewycz lied to police about the circumstances of the incident.

"We won't stop campaigning for justice until bad bosses learn that they can't buy their way out of criminal responsibility," said Ryan. "When employer negligence leads to a worker's death, it is not an accident, it is a crime … and those responsible must be sentenced to the full extent of the law."

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

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