CAW Blasts Labour Minister After Refusing Public Inquiry into Construction Worker Deaths
January 7, 2010, 4:04 PM EST
CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling on the Ontario government to reverse its decision not to hold a full public inquiry into the deaths of four Toronto construction workers on Christmas Eve, following a statement today by Ontario Minister of Labour Peter Fonseca that no public inquiry would take place. Lewenza called this decision "shameful."
"The government of Ontario must respond responsibly and hold a public inquiry into both the accident and the factors that allowed it to happen," said Lewenza, reiterating earlier calls by labour leaders for a public inquiry.
"There should be no excuse for such an accident to happen, after years of improvements to health and safety standards and legislation. Even the strongest of legislation will not protect workers if they are unaware of their rights or unable to exercise them and I fear this was the case."
Lewenza expressed grave concerns that the workers were uninformed on their right to refuse unsafe work, a fundamental right under the province's health and safety legislation.
In a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, Lewenza urged that a public inquiry must also reveal how common the disregard for basic safety rules actually is in the non-unionized construction industry, the same industry where many new Canadians find themselves working.
"There are a number of systemic issues which led to the circumstances of this tragic accident and the terrible disregard for human life," said Lewenza, "and they must be thoroughly investigated in a transparent and publicly accountable manner."