If you do not take COVID-19 seriously and investigate all potential occupational exposures and develop an exposure control plan, it is possible that you can be prosecuted for criminal negligence and spend the rest of your life in jail.

If you do not heed warnings from the Union, if you cancel Health & Safety meetings, if you fail to investigate and provide effective preventive measures, if you fail to provide proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

and just one of our members die, or bring it home to their family and a family member dies,

I promise you that our Union will do everything in our power, it will be our lifetime goal, we will use every single resource available to us to make sure you spend every last day of your life in jail.

Commonly referred to as the Westray Law, former Bill C-45, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal liability of organizations), came into force on March 31, 2004. It modernized the criminal law’s approach for establishing the criminal liability of corporations for workplace deaths and injuries. Specifically, it:

·       established rules for attributing criminal liability to organizations, including corporations, for the acts of their representatives

·       established a legal duty for all persons directing the work of others to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of workers and the public

·       set out factors that a court must consider when sentencing an organization

·       provided conditions of probation that a court may impose on an organization


Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code creates an occupational health and safety duty for all organizations and individuals who direct the work of others in Canada. It requires all organizations and individuals who undertake or have the authority to direct how others work or perform a task, to take all reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to the person performing the work or task, and to any other person. 

Section 217.1 codifies a legal duty for those who oversee, direct or supervise the work of others in the Criminal Code. The legal duty created in this section helps to satisfy one of the essential elements in a criminal negligence-based offence– more specifically, that the person directing the work of others breached a legal duty by not taking all reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to the person performing the work or to any other person.

For example, in the occupational health and safety context, criminal liability can result if an individual or corporation directing how others work or perform a task breached a legal duty (e.g., the duty at section 217.1) in a manner that is so careless or reckless that such conduct merits criminal punishment.

219. (1) Every one is criminally negligent who

(a) in doing anything, or

(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,

shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.


Not doing anything, or doing very little to protect workers at the Cargill Meat-packing plant in High River Alberta, just south of Calgary has authorities looking into criminal charges.  With all of the warnings about physical distancing its hard to imagine why management allowed workers , many working shoulder to shoulder, continue to have little regard to the transmission of the deadly virus.  Now one worker has died and one is in critical condition and management of Cargill should be understandably sweating as they await criminal charges to be laid for their wanton and reckless disregard for the lives and safety of their workers.

I would think there is also considerable anxiety being felt by United Poultry Co Ltd in Vancouver as their reckless failure to protect their workers has resulted in at least 30 workers contracting COVID-19.  How many will need critical care?  How many will die?  How many counts of criminal negligence will management of United Poultry be facing?

Why would an employer risk all of this?  Do the right thing!

Remember, if you kill a worker, you will go to jail!  Promise.

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