UFCW Canada calls for Coroner's Inquest into Hampstead tragedy

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TORONTO - February 10, 2012 - UFCW Canada, the leading advocate for agriculture workers in Canada, has called for a coroner's inquest into the horrific February 6, two-vehicle collision near Hampstead, Ontario that killed 10 migrant agriculture workers riding in a van, as well as the driver of the other vehicle.

Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada, has called upon the Chief Coroner of Ontario to conduct an inquiry to assess of all of the contributing causes to the accident, as well as a broader examination of the agriculture worker transportation system in Ontario.

"The tragedy in Hampstead was an accident waiting to happen," said the leader of Canada's largest private-sector union. "Agriculture worker deaths or injuries while in transit are occurring at a disturbing rate in Ontario and across Canada. An inquest would bring awareness, answers and recommendations that would hopefully prevent future accidents from occurring."

"We need an inquiry that looks at an unregulated farm worker transport system that is out of sight and out of mind until a tragedy occurs," says Hanley. "Right now, the inspection system and regulations for the transport of farm animals is more stringent than what's in place for farm workers."

For over two decades, UFCW Canada has led the campaign for safety and workplace rights for agriculture workers in Canada. In association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada also operates ten agriculture worker support centres across the country.

UFCW Canada and the AWA have also set up a fund to assist the families of the victims of the Hampstead tragedy. 100% of the collected funds will be donated to the benefit of families of the injured or killed workers. Donations to the Migrant Workers Family Support Fund can be made online at www.ufcw.ca/familysupportfund.