UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

May 19, 2010 16:27 ET

Tractor tragedy strikes on eve of Ontario safety hearings

“Agriculture workers in Ontario absolutely need better protection than they get now, and the Expert Advisory Panel can’t ignore that,” says UFCW Canada president.

Attention: Agriculture Editor, Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO--(Marketwire - May 19, 2010) -
A seasonal farm worker from Mexico remains in a Hamilton hospital with life-threatening injuries after the tractor he was driving was struck from behind by a passenger vehicle. Trinidad Mendieta, a 34-year-old migrant worker from San Jose, Mexico was rushed into surgery midday Tuesday after his tractor was rear-ended on a service road near a Lincoln, Ontario farm. He remains in an induced coma following an operation to repair his severed leg.

The accident happened just days before the Ontario Ministry of Labour Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety is set to conduct public consultations on reducing workplace deaths and injuries.

"Our hopes and prayers are with Trinidad Mendieta and for his recovery", says Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada. "Farm work is some of the most dangerous work there is and tragically what happened to Mr. Mendieta is just the latest example. Agriculture workers in Ontario absolutely need better protection than they get now, and the Expert Advisory Panel can't ignore that."

Next week, UFCW Canada in partnership with the Agriculture Workers Alliance will tell the Advisory Panel of the urgent need to improve regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) as they apply to agriculture - including mandatory training for heavy equipment operation including tractors, as well as other critical workplace safety regulations.

Currently OHSA only provides basic guidelines for farm operations. While workers have the right to refuse dangerous work, Ontario farms are exempt from other OHSA regulations that apply to almost all other Ontario workplaces.

"This is a deadly discrimination," says Hanley. "Is a farm worker's life worth less than any other worker? These workers need protection. That includes increased regulations on heavy equipment operation, confined spaces, unguarded equipment, and pesticide and chemical application."

"This is not news to the labour ministry," says the UFCW Canada president. "We've raised these concerns at a number of meetings with labour minister and his staff. We will raise them again with the Expert Advisory Panel, but how many more agriculture workers have to be critically injured or die before the McGuinty government acts?"

UFCW Canada is Canada's largest private-sector union, and in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) operates ten agriculture worker support centres across Canada, including AWA centres in Virgil, Simcoe, Bradford and Leamington, Ontario.

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Contact Information

  • Stan Raper, National Co-ordinator, Agriculture Workers Alliance
    Primary Phone: 416-675-1104 ext. 2232
    Secondary Phone: 416-523-0937
    E-mail: sraper@ufcw.ca