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Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Democrats Call for Improved Safety Standards on Fifth Anniversary of Fatal Abbotsford Farm Workers Crash

New Democrats Call for Improved Safety Standards on Fifth Anniversary of Fatal Abbotsford Farm Workers Crash

March 7th, 2012
VICTORIA – On the fifth anniversary of the tragic accident that killed three farm workers, New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to take action on worker safety.
On Mar. 7, 2007, Sarabjit Kaur Sidhu, Amarjit Kaur Bal, Sukhwinder Kaur Punia lost their lives in a crash while travelling to work on Highway 1 near Abbotsford.
“It has been five years since the untimely deaths of these women; their families and the community still feel the shock and devastation as clearly as the day it happened,” said New Democrat labour critic Raj Chouhan. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with them today.”
The three women were among 16 who were being transported in a notoriously unsafe 15 passenger van.
“An accident like this should never have happened in a province like British Columbia,” said Chouhan, MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds. “The van they were in was completely inadequate. It should never have been on the road.”
After public outcry over the accident, in 2009, a coroner's report recommended significant measures to improve working conditions on B.C.'s farms, as well as to improve farm vehicle safety. Three years later, the government has yet to implement all of the recommendations made by the coroner's jury.
“Our workers and their families deserve the reassurance their loved ones are safe at work; they deserve to know they are safe on their way to work,” said Chouhan.
Along with victims' families, organizations like the B.C. Federation of Labour and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have been asking the B.C. Liberals to pay attention and take steps before another tragedy takes place.
“Adrian Dix and the New Democrats mark this tragic anniversary by reiterating our call for the Liberal government to implement the coroner’s report in its entirety and to restore rights they stripped away from farm workers under B.C.'s Employment Standards Act,” said Chouhan.
“The women who died in this crash and the other passengers in that van didn't have the safeguards they deserved. Now we must ensure they didn't lose their lives in vain.”

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