TORONTO, ONTARIO – The cause of death of two Jamaican migrant agriculture workers who died Friday, September 10, at a central Ontario farm is still under investigation. The chief liaison officer in the Jamaica Liaison Service (JLS) in Toronto would only describe it as a “job-related accident”.
The two men, aged 36 and 44, were working at the Filsinger’s Organic Foods apple orchard and processing facility in Ayton, Ontario – about 70 kilometers south of Own Sound. Their bodies were transferred to a hospital morgue in Hanover, Ontario awaiting an autopsy.
Provincial police and the Ontario Ministry of Labour are conducting an investigation. The names of the victims have not been released.
“We are saddened by the death of these two men, and our sincere condolences go out their families,” said Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada, and the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA).
For more than two decades UFCW Canada has led the campaign for improved safety and workplace rights for migrant and domestic farm workers. UFCW Canada, in association with the AWA, operates ten agriculture worker support centres across Canada, including centres in Leamington, Simcoe, Virgil and Bradford, Ontario.
“The deaths of the two workers in Ayton is a tragic reminder of the dangers and risks in involved in the agriculture sector,” said Hanley, the leader of Canada’s largest private-sector union.
“Certainly what happened has to be investigated, but at the same time the Ministry of Labour must also take a more proactive role – with stepped up inspections and increased regulations – to reduce and prevent farm place fatalities and accidents.”
Jamaican migrant agriculture workers have worked each season in Canada since 1964. This season more than 6,000 Jamaican migrants were employed on over 300 Canadian farms.