June 12th, 2024

Quebec tribunal denies compensation to family of migrant worker who died on farm

By The Canadian Press on February 23, 2023.

Norma Macario (L-R) with her husband, Ottoniel Lares Batzibal, and daughters, Rumalda Maricela Lares Macario and María Teresa Lares Macario, are seen in 2019 in this photo provided Feb. 23, 2023. The family of a Guatemalan farm worker who accidentally died in July 2021 says it is "disappointed" with the decision of Quebec's labour tribunal, which refused to compensate the family because the death was not deemed a work accident. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-María Teresa Lares Macario *MANDATORY CREDIT*

MONTREAL – The family of a Guatemalan farm worker crushed to death trying to replace a flat tire on his employer’s car says they are disappointed Quebec’s labour tribunal denied them compensation.

María Teresa Lares Macario says she has not recovered from the sudden death of her father, Ottoniel Lares Batzibal, who died July 18, 2021, trapped under a car in the garage of Les Cultures Fortin Inc., a fruit and vegetable farm south of Quebec City.

She says the Feb. 7 decision is “unjust” and that her family is destitute and has resorted to selling embroidered textiles in their village on the outskirts of Guatemala City.

Administrative judge Valérie Lizotte ruled that Lares Batzibal was using his employer’s car outside work hours and that his “good intentions” to fix a flat tire were not related to his official duties.

The family’s representative argued to the tribunal that Lares Batzibal’s death was work related because he often acted as a designated driver to other farm workers.

But the company said that repairing a flat tire was a personal decision and outside of Lares Batzibal’s professional responsibilities.

Les Cultures Fortin Inc. was not immediately available for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2023.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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