Cargill COVID Beef Factory: A Death at Work: A Working Group

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The death by COVID-19 of an employee of a High River meat plant must be treated as a death on the job and a criminal investigation must be launched, the Alberta Federation of Labor announced on Tuesday.

In a letter to provincial labor minister Jason Copping, AFL president Gil McGowan, Tuesday called for an official occupational health and safety investigation into the circumstances of the death – which was released public Monday and is the first death from a large-scale COVID – 19 outbreak at the Cargill meat processing plant in High River.

Occupational health and safety investigates serious workplace incidents, including fatalities, that fall under provincial jurisdiction. OHS is currently working through the formal process to determine whether to investigate a death, Copping spokesman Adrienne South said on Thursday.

The provincial task force also requested that the meat plant operator, Cargill Inc., be the subject of an RCMP criminal investigation under federal law Westray, a rarely used amendment to the Criminal Code which allows employers to be prosecuted for negligence leading to injury or death at work.

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