Accident leads to manslaughter conviction

Burden of proof less than that for criminal negligence: Expert
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/23/2018
Construction Site
A worker’s 2012 death at a construction site in Montreal has led to a manslaughter conviction for the company’s owner. Credit: Aisyaqilumaranas (Shutterstock)

In a first for Canada, an employer has been convicted of manslaughter in relation to an occupational health and safety incident. And the conviction could mean other cases already before the courts face the same fate, according to one expert.

The case involved Sylvain Fournier, owner of an excavation company who was on-site in Montreal with several employees in 2012 replacing a sewer line. This involved excavating a trench, but when the trench’s walls suddenly collapsed, one of the workers, Gilles Lévesque, was buried beneath the earth and died.

Fournier was charged with criminal negligence causing death for not taking the required measures to prevent bodily harm in directing the work done by his employee. He was also charged with causing the death of Lévesque.