Relatives of baggage handler killed on the job welcome Air Canada's guilty plea

Relatives of a man killed while working as a baggage handler for Air Canada say they're grateful the airline has pleaded guilty in connection with his death, but they still wonder why it took more than three years for the company to do so.

Ian Henrey Pervez, 24, was killed on April 22, 2016 at Pearson Airport when a truck he was driving flipped and ejected him onto the tarmac.

Air Canada pleaded guilty to a safety violation related to baggage tractors on Nov. 25. A court ruled the company had not developed a program to protect workers from the hazards of operating those vehicles at the time of Pervez's death.

"Them admitting to their mistakes can hopefully prevent this from happening in the future to someone's kid, brother, husband," said Mark Pervez, the victim's younger brother.

Still, the family wishes the guilty plea would have arrived sooner.

"It took them almost four years to admit to their mistake," Pervez added.

Air Canada was fined $100,000 in connection with the incident. The airline was also ordered to make a $100,000 donation to the Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support.

The family said the dollar figures are relatively meaningless given the scale of the tragedy.

"No money can bring him back," Mark Pervez said. "In terms of it being sufficient or not, that's up to the court."

Turget Yeter/CBC

Family recalls 'black day'

While the family said the guilty plea has provided some measure of closure, the trauma is still fresh.

Pervez Pervez, the victim's father, struggled through tears as he recounted the night he lost his third-born child, whom the family called "Babloo."

"That day is a black day for my family," he said.

Pervez Pervez vividly remembers driving his son to work on the afternoon of his death. He still regrets not saying goodbye because he was on the phone when he dropped him off. He expected to pick him up at the end of his shift later that night.

"So when I dropped him, I never said, 'OK Babloo, God bless you ...' Usually every day, I say the same thing. That day. I didn't do that," Pervez Pervez said.

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His son was also engaged to be married in 2017, he added.

"He was full of life, always smiling. So humble, so kind," said older sister Jacinta Pervez.

"There's not even a day that we don't think about him."

Changes now in place, airline says

Air Canada says it has made significant changes since Pervez's death, including new training programs and retrofitting some vehicles to prevent further injuries or fatalities in rollovers.

"The death of our colleague Ian Henrey Pervez was a terrible tragedy that affected all of us deeply at Air Canada," wrote spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick in an email. "Safety is our top priority at all times and we view any workplace injury as unacceptable and preventable."

Paul Lefebvre, an IAMAW representative who attended Air Canada's court appearance in November, said he was happy to see the airline plead guilty. He also said the larger workplace culture is putting airport workers at risk.

"Things are much busier out there and they push the workers a lot harder to do things a lot quicker," he told CBC Toronto.

Lefebvre said his union, which represents machinists and aerospace workers, has asked the federal government to strengthen regulations around airport worker safety.

The possibility of stronger punishments may also be helpful, he said.

"I have to think a $100,000 fine to multi-billion-dollar corporations isn't quite something compelling to them in terms of preventing these things from occurring," Lefebvre added.