Justicia for Migrant Workers
c/o Workers Action Centre
720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 223
Toronto, ON M5S 2T9
February 6, 2013
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the deaths of eleven people in Hampstead, Ontario. One year later, the survivors and the families of the deceased are still left with many questions but with few answers about how and why this accident took place.
In the past year, many community and labour organizations rallied together to urge changes so that accidents like this one never happen again. We urged the Office of Chief Coroner to conduct its first ever inquest into the workplace deaths of migrant workers employed under the Federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program. We also met with Ministry of Labour officials to advocate for reform of labour laws to protect Ontario’s most vulnerable communities. But our requests have been ignored. The Chief Coroner’s refusal to further investigate one of the worst workplace accidents in the history of Ontario sends a message that the lives of those who perished — most of whom were migrant workers — matter less than those of other workers. We remind you that there has NEVER been an inquest into the death of a migrant worker in the Province of Ontario.
Employment standards, Occupational Health and Safety and Workers Compensation remain woefully inadequate denying equal access to rights that all workers deserve. At the same time, migrant workers are not provided with special protections against reprisals for attempting to enforce their rights at work. Temporary foreign workers remain at the mercy of unscrupulous recruiters and contractors who can charge exorbitant recruitment and placement fees. Temporary foreign workers remain at the mercy of unscrupulous recruiters and contractors who can charge exorbitant recruitment and placement fees.
We urge you undertake the following steps
• Review the decision not to undertake an inquest into the Hampstead accident
• Strengthen anti-reprisal mechanisms so that migrant workers can enforce their rights at work
• Ban all recruitment and placement fees for all temporary foreign workers
• Modernize Ontario labour laws to protect the most vulnerable workers in the province
• Write a letter to the federal government urging them to provide permanent immigration status for the survivors of the Hampstead accident
Premier Wynne, you have on many occasions referred to yourself as Ontario’s ‘Social Justice Premier’. We can think of no better way to put those words into action than by taking the necessary steps to protect the most precarious and marginalized population of workers in Ontario. To do nothing is not only a disservice, but dishonours the memory of all those men who died in an accident that could have been prevented.
Migrant workers deserve equal rights in Ontario. Currently these rights barely exist on paper. It is incumbent on your office to take the necessary steps to ensure justice for the families of the deceased and dignity for the survivors. This province must take its responsibility to protect precarious workers seriously by enacting meaningful and proactive legislation that protects all workers
Justicia for Migrant Workers Collective