Crown recommends $100,000 fine in first Bill C-45 conviction

Court to hand down sentence on March 17

The first Canadian employer to be convicted for criminal charges in a workplace death could face a $100,000 fine.

Last December, Transpavé, a manufacturer of concrete blocks in Saint-Eustache, Que., pleaded guilty to criminal negligence in the 2005 death of 23-year-old Steve L'Ecuyer.

In a sentencing hearing before a Quebec court last month, the Crown and Transpavé made a joint submission recommending the company be fined $100,000.

A "joint submission" is a common plea bargaining practice where both sides enter into negotiations and agree to make a joint sentencing recommendation. While the court is free to impose a different sentence, legal precedent dictates it follow the joint recommendation unless it's contrary to the public's interest.

At the hearing, the court heard Transpavé had spent more than $500,000 on safety improvements since the accident and the employer's guilty plea saved the victim's family and co-workers from a lengthy preliminary hearing and trial.

Separate from the joint submission, the Crown recommended a probation period for the company as a means to ensure Transpavé, which has about 100 employees, maintains high health and safety standards.

"It is clear that the amount of the proposed fine was greatly influenced by the relatively small size of Transpavé Inc. and the extensive post-accident steps that were undertaken to improve worker safety," stated law firm Stringer Brisbin Humphrey in a release.

"There is little doubt that a larger organization should expect to receive a considerably higher fine if it were to be convicted of criminal negligence for an occupational health and safety contravention."

The court will announce its final decision on March 17.

L’Ecuyer was crushed by a machine that stacks concrete blocks after pallets with concrete had backed up on the conveyer belt. Inspectors found the machine's safety guard had been disabled for nearly two years.

Transpavé was charged with criminal negligence causing death under the amendments to the Criminal Code brought in by Bill C-45, known as the “corporate killing law.”

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