Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Scotlynn fined for abusing workers

 Scotlynn SweetPac Farm south of Brantford has been fined a total of $156,250 for failing to treat temporary foreign workers as regulations require.

The large produce company is one of Canada’s major employers of temporary foreign workers and 199 of them fell ill with COVID-19 and one died in May of 2020.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour laid 20 charges for COVID-19 infractions. 

Scotlynn pleaded guilty to one of the charges, resulting in the fine of $125,000 and a 25 per cent victim surcharge of $31,250.

The money will go to the municipality, and the Migrant Workers Alliance said there will be nothing for the family of Juan Lopez Chaparro, 55, who died.

“While Scotlynn gets a slap on the wrist, these kinds of exploitative working conditions remain common across the country because migrants can only come to Canada with precarious and vulnerable immigration status,” said Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance of Canada.

He said that Canada failed to protect migrant workers who fed the nation during the pandemic. 

The alliance wants workers to be granted permanent residence status so they have rights and opportunities equal to others.

“There is no justice done here,” Hussan said of the lack of compensation for Chapporro’s family and other workers.

“Scotlynn is a multi-million-dollar, multi-national corporation, and these fines are just the cost of doing business to them,” he said.

Gabriel Flores, one of the initial workers who became ill, told the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star newspapers that workers were exploited, lived in substandard housing and were denied testing despite being sick. 

He was fired days after speaking to reporters.

In November 2020, the Ontario Labour Relations Board ordered Scotlynn to pay Flores $25,000 in lost wages and damages.

Scotlynn has given farmer employers a very bad reputation. And no wonder it can't find Canadians to do its work and relies on the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.