Ontario farm pleads responsible to employee’s demise, first COVID-19 case prosecuted underneath provincial security legal guidelines

Scotlynn Farms, primarily based in Vittoria, Ont., has pleaded responsible within the COVID-19 demise of considered one of its employees. It is the primary COVID-19 prosecution of an employer underneath the occupational well being and security legal guidelines within the province.

Scotlynn Farms agreed to pay a effective of $125,000, plus $31,250 for court docket prices.

The Norfolk County farm was dealing with 27 expenses underneath the Reopening Ontario Act and the Ontario Occupational Well being and Security Act. Seven of these have been laid in opposition to Scotlynn Sweetpac Growers Inc. in April 2021, and one other 20 expenses have been added in September 2021. These new expenses have been break up between the Scotlynn Group and its president and CEO Scott Biddle.

In line with the agreed assertion of details, Scotlynn employs roughly 220 agricultural employees who stay in bunkhouses that may accommodate between eight and 50 individuals.

It went on to say that Scotlynn didn’t take the “cheap precaution of isolating COVID-19 symptomatic employees” to guard different staff and so they “didn’t persistently implement and implement screening for COVID-19 signs” within the office.

Additional, it said that a number of employees skilled “cold-like signs” that they didn’t report back to their supervisors. The supervisors, in flip, solely reported these situations the place the employee’s signs have been persistent or they required medical consideration.

The agreed assertion of details additionally stated between Could 13, 2020 and August 10, 2020, Scotlynn “allowed employees to self-regulate masking and should have been extra pro-active.”

DEATH AT SCOTLYNN FARMS

Greater than 200 employees on the farm examined constructive for COVID-19 between Could and June 2020, and three needed to be hospitalized.

One in every of them, Juan Lopez Chaparro, died from the illness. The 55-year-old father of 4 handed away at a London hospital on June 20, 2020. For a decade, Chaparro had traveled from Mexico to Canada for work to help his household again house.

Chaparro’s bunkmate, Luis Gabriel Flores, additionally contracted COVID-19 whereas working at Scotlynn Farms. He was fired after talking publicly about his employer’s dealing with of the outbreak and situations on the farm.

“The scenario created the proper situations for the COVID-19 outbreak that made us sick,” he instructed CTV Information on July 30, 2020.

Flores claimed the Scotlynn Group did not act when employees started displaying signs of the sickness and so they solely took the scenario critically when employees known as an ambulance for a sick worker.

He additionally alleged that the corporate’s founder threatened him with deportation for speaking to the media.

Scott Biddle CTV Information in July 2020 instructed the allegations have been false, however declined an on-camera interview.

In November 2020, the Labor Relations Board dominated that Scotlynn Sweetpac Growers Inc. broke the regulation when it fired Flores. The corporate was ordered to pay him $25,000.

Flores obtained a one-time weak employee allow after he spoke out, however was unable to get it renewed, so he was compelled to return to Mexico.

PROTECTING MIGRANT WORKERS

Migrant Staff Alliance for Change, a company advocating for employees and immigration justice, is asking for extra to be finished to guard migrant employees in Canada.

“Whereas Scotlynn will get a slap on the wrist, these sorts of exploitative working situations stay frequent throughout the nation as a result of migrants can solely come to Canada with precarious and weak immigration standing,” stated Govt Director Syed Hussan in a media launch. “Canada has failed to guard the migrant employees who fed us and took care of us in the course of the pandemic. The one option to set up equity is to help equal rights for migrants by granting everlasting residency in order that they’ll defend themselves in opposition to abusive employers. As a substitute, Canada has made it simpler for employers to rent extra precarious, short-term migrants.”

He added that the effective paid by Scotlynn Farms won’t be paid to the household of Juan Lopez Chaparro.

“The effective will go to the municipality, however Juan’s household, Gabriel and different employees will obtain no reparations; there is no such thing as a justice finished right here.”

In December 2021, Canada’s auditor basic launched a report displaying the federal authorities failed to make sure agricultural producers have been correctly defending migrant employees from COVID-19.

On the time of the report, the Migrant Staff Alliance for Change said six short-term overseas employees had already died from the sickness, although they believed the precise quantity was larger.

The Liberal authorities promised to enact new necessities for agricultural producers, together with correct lodging for quarantining migrant employees. Whereas inspectors at Employment and Social Growth Canada stated nearly all farms have been complying with these rules, the auditor basic stated the bulk weren’t correctly inspected.

“We discovered that the division assessed nearly all employers as compliant with the COVID-19 necessities, regardless of having gathered little or no proof to reveal this,” the report learn.

Inspectors, it added, had proof that urged employers have been violating necessities however “there was no proof that the division challenged or adopted up with employers. The division nonetheless discovered the employers compliant.”

MORE: Fed failed to make sure farms protected migrant employees from COVID-19: Auditor basic

The report additionally said that the officers have been gradual or did not correctly examine services the place outbreaks have been occurring.