Farm workers launch Charter challenge

UFCW wants Ontario's health and safety legislation amended to include protection for farm workers

Farm workers have filed an application to the Superior Court of Ontario to extend protection under the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act to them.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union is charging that the act violates the Charter rights of farm workers by excluding them.

Paul Cavalluzo, a lawyer for UFCW, was quoted in the Windsor Star as saying that Ontario is the only province in Canada where farm workers have no protection under health and safety legislation.

He said 13 per cent of all occupational fatalities across Canada occur on farms or agri-industry operations. In Ontario, 20 farm workers were killed on the job in 2002.

“It is our view there is absolutely no justification, whether you look at it politically, ethically or legally, for having farm workers excluded,” said Cavalluzo.

The union vowed to take the Charter challenge all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary to win protection for farm workers.

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