Kitchener, ON, October 18, 2013 – Labour Council President Marc Xuereb is calling for a police investigation into the death of construction worker Nick Lalonde in Waterloo last Friday. “Someone must be held responsible for this tragedy,” Xuereb said. “If the construction company is found negligent in its duty to provide a safe working environment for its employees, and that negligence results in a death, then the company’s CEO and Directors deserve criminal charges.”
The Ontario Ministry of Labour has already made 17 orders to the property management company Maison Canada, including orders to stop all work at the site until the orders are complied with. Several of the orders are for basic measures like erecting guardrails on the edge of the building and establishing a Health & Safety committee involving its workers.
“The company obviously did not put in place the basic common-sense health and safety precautions required by law,” Xuereb said. “That resulted in one of its employees dying on the job. Real people are responsible for that crime, and they should be held to account.”
Changes made to the federal criminal code ten years ago in response to the Westray mine disaster in Nova Scotia make it possible to impose criminal liability on companies and their representatives for failing to ensure the safety of their workers. The first time these new powers were used was in response to the death of four construction workers in Toronto on Christmas Eve four years ago. Metron Construction was found criminally negligent in that incident and fined $862,500. A trial against Metron Project Manager, Vadim Kazenelson, is expected to begin this Fall.
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) applauded the fine levied against Metron, but has continued to push for jail sentences for Executives and Directors of negligent corporations. Xuereb is a big supporter of the OFL’s “Kill a Worker, Go to Jail” campaign. “Decision-makers should not be able to hide behind corporate walls when their decisions have led to deaths of employees.”
Xuereb spoke to CTV News on October 13, two days after the incident, before details of the orders levied against the company were released. Click on the screenshot to view the 3-minute news story.
For details on the Ministry of Labour's ongoing investigation into the Maison Canada construction site, click here.
For more information on police powers regarding employer negligence in workplace deaths, see these background documents on Bill C-45: