Group calls for inquest into deadly Hampstead crash
Chris Kitching, cp24.com
Published Friday, February 17, 2012 2:06PM EST
About 50 people rallied in downtown Toronto on Friday to call for an inquest into a crash that killed 11 people, and for better working conditions for migrant workers.
A group calling itself Justice for Migrant Workers lit candles and waved signs during a rally outside the chief coroner's office on Grosvenor Street before marching along a few downtown streets to the Ministry of Labour's University Avenue office, where they lit more candles in memory of the crash victims.
The protesters took their demonstration to the streets in an attempt to ramp up pressure on the Office of the Chief Coroner to call an inquest into a fatal crash that 10 poultry farm workers from Latin America and a London man near Hampstead on Feb. 6, and a separate inquest into the deaths of two migrant workers who were killed in a farm accident in 2010.
Chris Ramsaroop, a spokesman for Justice for Migrant Workers, told CP24's Katie Simpson inquests would examine the circumstances of the incidents on the public record, and develop recommendations to improve working conditions and prevent similar deaths.
Ramsaroop said the group wants the provincial labour department to provide better job security for migrant workers.
"We want the provincial government to protect migrant workers because all workers, irrespective of status, should have protections at work and should not be fearful of reprisals or deportation," Ramsaroop said.
In response to the protest, the Office of the Chief Coroner issued a statement saying it is currently conducting a "thorough investigation" into the deaths of the men killed in the Hampstead crash.
Once that investigation wraps up, the agency will decide whether an inquest is warranted.
"We acknowledge the information and concerns of various groups and organizations that have been in touch with our office and we are considering that information as our investigation progresses," the Office of the Chief Coroner said in its statement.
The statement didn't make any mention about the two workers killed in 2010.
In the Hampstead crash, 10 farm workers – nine from Peru and one originally from Nicaragua – died when the 15-passenger van they were travelling in went through a stop sign and was T-boned by a delivery truck.
Three of the van's passengers, also migrant workers, survived.
The truck driver, 38-year-old Christopher Fulton of London, died in the crash.
With files from CP24's Katie Simpson
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