Unions Are Calling For A Toronto Food Company To Be Shut Down After Another Worker Dies
Five Fiera Foods employees have died in the last 20 years.
A Toronto-based food company is being urged to cease operations after yet another on-site fatality. Unifor and the Ontario Federation of Labour have both urged that Fiera Foods be shut down after an employee died on Wednesday, September 25 following an industrial accident. The death was the fifth such fatality at the company and its associates in the last 20 years.
UPDATE: David Gelbloom, general counsel at Fiera Foods, told Narcity in an emailed statement: "I am saddened to confirm a member of our team was tragically hurt in a workplace accident and later succumbed to those injuries ... The health and safety of our people is our priority. We have always
worked to create healthy, safe job sites. In recent years we have committed even more resources and efforts to health and safety initiatives which have included working with third-party experts and the Ministry of Labour. But clearly more needs to be done. We know this and are re-committing to doing all we can to ensure such an incident cannot repeat itself.
"At this point, we are focused on investigating this accident and will provide additional information as it becomes available. We have organized grief councillors to be onsite and will be providing our workers the support they need through this difficult time."
EARLIER: According to the Toronto Star, police responded to a medical emergency at Marmora Street on Wednesday afternoon. The Ministry of Labour was later notified of an industrial accident at Fiera's main facility, according to a spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service.
Now, leading unions are voicing their opinions that the company should be closed down as a result of such a poor safety record.
Jerry Dias, the national president of Unifor, the largest private-sector union in Canada, said in a statement: "Fiera Foods must not be allowed to operate business as usual and its owners must immediately take responsibility for this tragic death and answer to the victim's family and the public for their actions.
"The Government of Ontario must also intervene before yet another worker dies on the job because of greedy and careless owners who believe the cost of a fine and a slap on the wrist are worth more than the lives of its workers."
These calls were echoed by Chris Buckley, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). "This employer has repeatedly demonstrated a complete disregard for the safety of those that work there, leaving yet another family grieving the loss of their loved one. It is time for the Ministry of Labour and the police to bring the full weight of the law to bear on this employer. They must be accountable for the deaths that have taken place at their facilities."
Even the Ontario New Democratic Party had their say, tweeting: "New Democrats demand a full public investigation of Fiera Foods and their health and safety record. No worker in Ontario should have to worry about losing their life when they show up on the job."
The OFL statement adds that the federation has written to police after three of the previous Fiera fatalities. It continues by remembering the four previous fatalities to have occurred under the company's watch, the most recent of which was just 11 months ago.
Unifor's statement says that Fiera Foods' workforce is made up of roughly 70% temporary workers. A 2017 Toronto Star investigation found that those temporary workers received little to no workplace safety training, were paid under the table through payday lenders, and can often be never relieved of "temporary status."
The Ministry of Labour is investigating this latest incident.
For Dias, Buckley, and likely many others, though, it seems that's nowhere near enough.