Social Justice and Democracy

Canada’s unions: Negligent employers on notice with 3-year prison sentence

September 14, 2023

In a direct message to employers who fail to ensure the health and safety of workers, a supervisor has been handed a three-year prison sentence for his failure to follow the law. 

In June of this year, the Court of King’s Bench found Jason King of New Brunswick-based Springhill Construction guilty of criminal negligence – “wonton and reckless disregard” – that killed 18-year-old Michael Henderson. 

While in a four-foot-wide utility hole, a plug holding back water slid out – and the young worker was pinned to a wall as water rushed above his head, drowning him. 

“It is unconscionable how the supervisor failed in his duties,” says Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “This young man had his whole life in front of him – his death was completely preventable and the lives of his family and those he loved will never be the same.” 

Bruske emphasizes that the fight for accountability isn’t over: “Springhill Construction must be held responsible for hiring such a supervisor in the first place. Nothing less than a strong prosecution and criminal negligence charge will suffice.” 

Canada’s unions reiterate the need for strong health and safety systems in every workplace. “Health and safety is job number one,” concludes Bruske. “Laws to protect workers must be enforced – to the fullest extent.” 

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