Death spurs demand for criminal investigation

Photo by Heather Davidson

Photo by Heather Davidson

The president of the Waterloo Regional Labour Council has asked the Waterloo Regional Police to investigate further into the death of 23-year-old Nick Lalonde, who died on a construction site on Oct. 11.

Marc Xuereb believes that the incident could warrant a criminal prosecution of negligence or failing to meet proper health and safety codes.

“Like any kind of crime, if there’s not repercussion for your action then there’s not incentive to not do it,” he explained.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has already made 17 orders to the property management company, Maison Canada.

Xuereb, however, feels that larger measures need to be placed to set an example of the consequences for failing to meet basic health and safety standards in the workplace.

“The infractions of the safety code and occupational safety act were so outrageous that they didn’t even have a guard along the edges of the building that would prevent someone from falling off,” he added.

Maison Canada, also did not have a Health and Safety committee instated on the construction site, according to Xuereb, which he explained is a necessity when a work site has more than 20 employees.

“They didn’t even have basic things in place and it led tragically to the death of someone working there.”

The Waterloo Regional Police was briefly involved with the incident of Lalonde’s death on Oct. 11 when the workplace injury initially occurred.

After the workplace fatality was been determined an accident, they transferred the investigation over to the Ministry of Labour.

“The Ministry of Labour has taken over investigating this incident,” said Shaena Morris of the Waterloo Regional Police.

“So, we will not be laying any charges.”

Xuereb, however, openly called out to the police, asking them to look further into the incident.

“They have been quite open with me,” he explained to The Cord. “I spoke to Kevin Chalk [the Deputy Chief of Police-relations] and he promised he was going to look into my request and get back to me.”

Xuereb had previously spoken to someone from the Workers Health and Safety act Committee in Hamilton, who revealed that Lalonde’s death was the tenth fall this year in Ontario.

In 2012, Ontario also saw 230 workplace deaths.

“It’s basically a death for every working day,” Xuereb emphasized.

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act is allegedly very strong, according to Xuereb, who explained that the “real tragedy here is that Ontario has excellent health and safety laws [but] many workers don’t know about it.”

He explained that workers have the right to push for change in their workplace and that he feels many employers are not making this information available to their workers.

“We have this unbalance of power in the workplace where employers can get away with cutting corners,” he said.

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