Historic Rights Tribunal to Examine Workplace Deaths of Temporary Foreign Workers

April 17th is the first day of an historic hearing at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. The tribunal will examine evidence regarding the workplace death of Jamaican migrant worker Ned Livingston Peart. Mr. Peart was crushed to death while working on a tobacco farm near Brantford, Ontario on August 22, 2002. Mr. Peart was one of over 30,000 migrant workers that toil under the auspices of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, a government program that brings farm workers from Mexico and the Caribbean to farms across Canada.

The Peart family sought to have a coroner’s inquest held into the death because their communications with Mr. Peart led them to have concerns over dangerous working conditions on the farm. The Office of Chief Coroner denied the request. Working with Justicia for Migrant Workers’ organizers, the family then brought a complaint to the Human Rights Commission in the summer of 2005 claiming that the Coroners Act, which provides mandatory inquests for certain types of workers while excluding others, violates the Ontario Human Rights Code by causing adverse impacts not only on Mr. Peart but all migrant farm workers in Ontario.

This case is of historical importance because it seeks to ensure a safer working environment for all migrant workers in the province by requesting an inquest into Mr. Peart’s death as well as wider systemic reforms in how the Office of Chief Coroner investigates the death of migrant agricultural workers. There has never been a coroner’s inquest into the death of a migrant worker.

“For over ten years, the Peart family has sought answers into the death of Ned. Ned was a brother, father, son and community leader. His death devastated a community. It is our responsibility to implement changes so occupational deaths like Mr. Peart never happen again,” says Tzazna Miranda Leal, organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW).

Miranda Leal continues, “Whether it was the accident that claimed the lives of two migrant workers near Ayton, Ontario or the accident near Hampstead Ontario, migrant workers continue to be employed under dangerous conditions. As temporary foreign worker programs expand, it is imperative that steps are taken to protect precarious communities such as migrant workers.”

Who: Family of Ned Livingston Peart, Migrant Workers, Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) and community allies.

What: Hearing at the Human Rights Tribunal regarding the death of migrant worker Ned Livingston Peart.

Where: Ontario Human Rights Tribunal 655 Bay at Elm. St. (between Dundas St. and Gerrard St.) 14th Floor.

When: April 17th, 18th, 24th, 25th and 26th; 9:00-5:00pm.

Historic Rights Tribunal to Examine Workplace Deaths of Temporary Foreign Workers

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