Deaths of two Jamaican workers at Ontario orchard under investigation.
Toronto (14 Sept. 2010) - The death of two Jamaican farm workers on Sept. 10 at an apple farm south of Owen Sound were caused by a "job related accident," says the Jamaican Liaison Service (LS) in Toronto.
The deaths, which are under investigation, occurred at Filsinger's Organic Foods and Orchards in Ayton. The bodies of the two victims, aged 36 and 44, are awaiting autopsy. Names have not been released.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Ontario ministry of labour are investigating.
"We are saddened by the death of these two men, and our sincere condolences go out their families," says Wayne Hanley, national president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada).
For more than two decades UFCW Canada has led the campaign for improved safety and workplace rights for migrant and domestic farm workers. UFCW Canada, in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), operates ten agriculture worker support centres across Canada including centres in Leamington, Simcoe, Virgil and Bradford, Ontario.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has worked closely for many years with UFCW Canada on many issues, including rights for farm workers.
"The deaths of the two workers in Ayton is a tragic reminder of the dangers and risks involved in the agriculture sector," says Hanley.
"Certainly what happened has to be investigated, but at the same time the ministry of labour must also take a more proactive role - with stepped up inspections and increased regulations - to reduce and prevent farm place fatalities and accidents."
Jamaican migrant agriculture workers have worked each season in Canada since 1964. This season more than 6,000 Jamaican migrants were employed on over 300 Canadian farms.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE