Excerpt from the Summer 2022 Edition of the OH&S Canada magazine
Scottlynn Sweet Pac Growers in Vittoria, Ontario, plead guilty to health and safety violations after one of its workers contracted Covid-19 and died. It was fined $125,000 plus a 25% victim fine surcharge. The maximum fine the court could have imposed was $1.5 million.
The farm group, along with its owner Scott Biddle, had faced 20 charges under Ontario’s occupational health and safety laws after 200 employees got infected with Covid 19, with 55-year-old Juan Lopez Chaparro succumbing to the virus.
The outbreak happened in May and June 2020, which charges from Ontario’s Ministry of labour laid out in September 2021.
Gabriel Flores, a migrant farm worker, blew the whistle on the poor working conditions at Scottlyn, alleging labour exploitation and substandard housing provisions.
Flores won the case against the farm company for illegal reprisals at the Labour Relations Board. He was awarded $25,000 in damages.
Syed Hussan, executive of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, called the fine a “slap on the wrist” of the multi-million-company and that justice was not served.
“Canada has failed to protect the migrant workers who fed us and took care of us during the pandemic. The only way to establish fairness is to support equal rights for migrants by granting permanent residency so that they can defend themselves against abusive employers.
“Instead, Canada has made it easier for employers more precarious, temporary migrants,” said Hussan.
The organization called for federal changes to protect migrant workers, which it said go beyond better bunkhouses.
There are many types of farms that use migrant worker on a regular or seasonal basis. They are hired to do the types of work most average Canadians will not do. Heavy lifting, out in the hot sun, back-breaking labour seems to keep local help away.
This type of setup does not mean that safety goes out the window here. Workers are workers whether they are local or migratory. Safety on the job MUST be #1.
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.