10/10/2019 15:26 EDT

Enrico Miranda 'Might Be Alive' If Ontario Enforced Existing Law: Advocates

Companies have no incentive to keep temp workers safe, the Workers’ Action Centre says.

Enrico Miranda, 57, died on Sept. 25 at the industrial bakery Fiera Foods in North York, Ont.

TORONTO — Workers’ advocates are calling on the Ontario government to enforce existing protections for temporary workers after a 57-year-old grandfather was crushed to death at a North York, Ont. bakery. 

“We are so frustrated with the lack of action that has been taken and the lack of seriousness in terms of this situation,” Deena Ladd, executive director of the Workers’ Action Centre, told HuffPost Canada in an interview. 

“This is not a luxury,” Ladd said. “This is about saving lives.”

The latest victim, Enrico Miranda, is the fifth worker to die on the job at Fiera Foods or one of its affiliates in 20 years, according to the Toronto Star. 

This is about saving lives.Deena Ladd, Workers' Action Centre

If Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet had signed into force a schedule of a bill that was passed in 2018, Miranda “might be alive today,” the Workers’ Action Centre said in an open letter to the premier. 

A law passed by the previous Liberal government includes a section that allows the government to charge companies who use temp agencies when those workers get injured or die on the job. Currently, temp agencies pay the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claims while the companies that use them do not.

“Laws like this will make companies like Fiera Foods think twice before putting temp workers into harm’s way,” the Workers’ Action Centre said in its letter. 

“There’s no more time to waste, and we need you to take action to make sure this is the last temp agency worker death.”

Demonstrators rally outside Fiera Foods in North York, Ont. after temporary worker Enrico Miranda died on the job.

Ladd said she hasn’t heard a word from the government in response. 

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour is investigating Miranda’s death, a spokesperson told HuffPost by email. 

“While it would be too early to comment on any specific plans, we’re currently looking into the best way to address this issue,” Janet Deline said.

She highlighted that Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton has met with more than 100 labour leaders and “countless” workers and stakeholders since taking on the portfolio in June.

Fiera Foods was fined $300,000 plus a “25% victim fine surcharge” after Amina Diaby died working at their factory in 2016, Deline said. The 23-year-old temp worker was strangled after her hijab was sucked into a machine just two weeks after she started the job.

The company was fined because it failed to live up to requirements in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, but it would have faced additional penalties from the WSIB if the Liberal legislation was in force, Ladd said. 

Ladd said there will be more fatal accidents if the government doesn’t force companies to better protect workers hired through temp agencies.

“It’s really heartbreaking that we’re in a situation where we have people working through agencies who are dying on the job and the government is not taking this seriously enough,” Ladd said. 

“I don’t know what else we have to do to make this argument.”

Earlier on HuffPost:

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