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Lack of mandatory farm worker death inquests not discriminatory: tribunal

TORONTO - The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario says the Coroners Act doesn't discriminate against migrant farm workers by not requiring mandatory inquests when they die in workplace accidents.

The family of a man killed on an Ontario farm in 2002 launched the application, arguing it was discriminatory for construction and mining deaths to trigger mandatory inquests, but not for seasonal agricultural workers.

Ned Peart, a father of six who came from Jamaica to work on a tobacco farm in Brant County, was crushed by a 450-kilogram tobacco bin.

The tribunal ruling says that the lack of a mandatory inquest for migrant farm workers does not mean their lives are of lesser value or their safety is less worthy of protection.

The tribunal says that mining and construction workers face a higher degree of risk of traumatic workplace deaths and the causes of those deaths are quite varied, so inquests are more likely to produce useful recommendations.

The tribunal says that because of the nature of the work done by agriculture workers and the smaller degree of variability in the ways they are killed on the job, an inquest into each workplace death would be less likely to produce useful recommendations.

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