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The Voice

Farm work danger - Canadian lobby group wants enquiry into death of Jamaican
published: Monday | December 20, 2004

Damion Mitchell, Staff Reporter

JUSTICE FOR Migrant Workers (J4MW), a Canadian lobby group, will tomorrow make an official appeal for a Coroner's Inquest into the 2002 death of a Jamaican farm worker in Branford, Ontario in Canada.

Ned Livingston Peart, a 39-year-old man from May Pen Clarendon, was working at the Vilaca Tobacco Farm in August 2002 when he was crushed to death.

The Ontario Provincial Police had declared the death as an accident, saying Mr. Peart was killed while assisting to reload an iron bin from a kiln onto a bin-lift.

According to the police, the bin had tipped backwards, pinning Peart against the kiln. Their report also said despite efforts by colleagues to rescue Mr. Peart, he was pronounced dead at hospital with an autopsy indicating that he died from internal injuries. However, both the J4MW and Mr. Peart's family believe otherwise and are demanding that Barry A. McLellan, the chief coroner of Ontario, commissions an enquiry into the death.

POLICE REPORT

In 2003, a regional coroner had denied the family's request for an inquest, saying he was satisfied with the police report as to the cause of Mr. Peart's death.

Chris Ramsaroop, an organiser at the J4MW, said the inquest was especially important, in order to expose some of the unacceptable conditions in Canada, under which Jamaicans and other migrant workers had to operate.

"There are literally hundreds of people who are complaining," he said, noting that they were not afforded proper housing and protection, while their jobs were threatened if they objected to the conditions under which they had to work. He also said migrant workers were being paid up to $8 dollars per hour less than Canadians.

"Basic rights are being denied to workers in the third most dangerous industry in Canada," he said.

And Wilbert Peart, a brother of Ned Peart, said shortly after the incident in 2002, he visited the Canadian Farm where his younger brother died, only to hear from several witnesses as well as the management of the Farm, inconsistent accounts of the events that led to the farm worker's death.

He also said the incident has had a traumatic impact on his family.

"My mother is the one that is feeling all the pain," he told The Gleaner from his New York home, yesterday. "It has destroyed her."

Neither Horace Dalley, the Minister of Labour and Social Security, nor Senator Floyd Morris, the state minister could be reached for a comment last night.

Some 5,000 Jamaican farm workers were in Canada at the time of Mr. Peart's death with 17 being employed on the Vilaca Farm.

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