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News

Ontario PCs Received Thousands in Donations From Owner of Business Linked to Multiple Workplace Deaths

Fiera Foods says its co-founder spreads donations ‘across political parties’

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Despite claiming his government is focused on “working for workers,” Doug Ford’s Ontario PCs received thousands of dollars in donations from a business slapped with numerous health and safety orders from Ontario’s Ministry of Labour and linked to multiple worker deaths.

Fiera Foods is a Toronto-based bakery that has made headlines numerous times over the years in connection to stories about hazardous workplace conditions. The company has faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and is linked to at least five deaths from 1999-2016.

New donation records reviewed by PressProgress show that between 2020 and 2021, Ford’s Ontario PC Party received a total of $2,650 from Boris Serebryany, the co-founder and longtime CEO of Fiera Foods. This year, Ford’s PCs received an additional $3,325 in the lead-up to the 2022 provincial election.

According to the company’s website and corporate profile records, Serebryany served as CEO and is a current registered director of Fiera, having co-founded it in 1987.

The name of Carmela Serebryany — Boris Serebryany’s daughter and head of Fiera subsidiary, Upper Crust — is also listed as having donated around $3,000.

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Shortly after forming government in 2018, Ford’s PCs discontinued legislation that would have made employers liable for temp worker injuries.

In Fall 2019, Ford’s constituency office was occupied by protesters after a fifth temporary worker died at North York’s Fiera Foods, a manufacturer of bagels and other baked goods for Tim Hortons and others.

Protesters demanded Fiera be shut down and the law changed to make employers liable for injuries. While six Ministry of Labour orders were placed on the company for infractions and a “comprehensive review” of the company’s health and safety problems was announced no legislative changes followed.

The company has been issued multiple health and safety orders by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. A Toronto Star investigation from September 2017 noted Fiera’s floors were incredibly slippery, emergency stop buttons for machinery were often out of reach and proper safety guards on machinery have been found missing.

Since the start of the pandemic, Fiera has been investigated by the MOL after workers tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement to PressProgress, a spokesperson for Fiera Foods said the company’s co-founder donate to multiple political parties.

“Boris Serebryany and other members of our team donate across political parties and in support of various candidates and causes,” the spokesperson told PressProgress. “This is always done in full transparency and in accordance with all regulations.”

Prior to 2017, Fiera Foods donated $2,500 to the Ontario PCs and nearly $25,000 to the Ontario Liberals. Fiera Foods was singled out for praise in the Liberals’ 2014 budget as the government granted the company $1.5 million to “create 52 new jobs” and increase production.

The CEO was photographed with Liberal MPPs at the time.

The Ontario Federation of Labour notes that under the Ford government’s Working for Workers Act, a company like Fiera Foods would likely be deemed a “safe employer” – because the bill mainly targets the temp agencies for failing to protect workers, not the companies running the actual workplaces.

“The Ford government has shown that big business is its close friend by making them shutdown-proof, but the precarious workers themselves were the ones to suffer the consequences of poor working conditions. Ford’s Conservatives are the friends of bosses, not workers,” OFL president Patty Coates told PressProgress.

“Serebryany’s donations to Ford’s PCs are particularly troubling because throughout the pandemic, employers that relied on temp agencies and disregarded health and safety measures fostered conditions for COVID-19 infections to multiply,” Coates said.

 

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Mitchell Thompson
Ontario Reporter
Mitchell Thompson is PressProgress’ Ontario reporter. His reporting has a special focus on workers and communities, and public services and privatization, and public accountability.

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