Filipino’s death in Ontario bakery taints wide use of temp workers
TORONTO – A Filipino immigrant’s death in an accident at an industrial bakery has put a spotlight on business establishments’ widespread use of temporary workers, a practice being criticized as exploitative.
Enrico Miranda, 57, an experienced civil engineer in the Philippines and Dubai before he immigrated to Canada, was crushed to death by a machine last September 25 as he cleaned it in North York industrial bakery Fiera Foods.
Fiera is self-described as “one of North America’s largest suppliers of baked goods,” with clients that include Metro, Costco, Walmart and Dunkin’ Donuts.
Miranda had been working at Fiera Foods for five years at the time of his death. He was previously a temporary worker in a cardboard factory, and also installed windows before working at Fiera Foods, unable to land a permanent job there or practice as an engineer.
Miranda was the fifth temp agency worker to die at Fiera or one of its affiliates since 1999, according to the Toronto Star.
Miranda’s chest was fatally crushed in the accident, according to police. According to his family, he had previously fractured his ring finger while using a dough mixer at the plant.
Miranda’s family was told by his co-workers that the factory didn’t stop production in the wake of his death. Employees were still at work on shift the evening of the accident, according to the Toronto Star.
In the wake of the accident, Ministry of Labour inspectors issued six health and safety citations to Fiera, but the office refuses disclose details. It had changed its media disclosure policy so that it no longer has to reveal documented safety infractions until a full investigation into an employer is complete, which could take a year, according to the Star.
In 2017, a Toronto Star investigation found nearly 1,700 active temp agencies in the Greater Toronto Area alone.
According to critics, businesses use temp agencies because under provincial law, workplace accidents are marked on temp agencies’ records with government, not the client companies’.
Last year, the current Ontario government reversed recently enacted protections that would have provided more rights to temp agency workers, including mandating equal pay for temps doing the same work as a permanent employee.
Before coming to Canada, Miranda worked in Dubai, separated from his family for 20 years. His wife became
a migrant caregiver in Canada in 2004. She eventually sponsored Miranda and their sons, Richard and Patrick, and they joined her in Toronto in 2009.
After years as a temporary worker at Fiera, Miranda asked to be made permanent but didn’t get a response, his family says. A Fiera lawyer says his request “was being processed” at the time of his death.
Miranda’s family will bring his body to the Philippines.