Third death linked to Canada’s largest COVID-19 outbreak in an Alberta abattoir


A third death is linked to the COVID-19 outbreak at a Cargill meat processing plant near High River in southern Alberta, the largest single location in Canada.

On Monday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that a man who died on the weekend was an employee of the plant.

He was hospitalized with COVID-19 a month ago, she said.

The first two deaths linked to the epidemic were Hiep Bui, a 67-year-old woman who worked at the factory, and Armando Sallegue, the 71-year-old father of a factory worker, who came from the Philippines. Sallegue’s funeral took place Sunday evening.

Hinshaw said Alberta Health is focusing on the negative outcomes for factory workers, as it can be difficult to confirm where people outside the workplace have contracted the disease. Sallegue’s son was confirmed to have COVID-19 the same day that his father was hospitalized for the disease.

CBC News contacted Cargill to comment on the latest worker death.

There are currently 36 active cases of COVID-19 among Cargill employees, and 911 employees have recovered. More than 1,500 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to the plant, which at one time had the largest outbreak in North America.

A spokesperson for UFCW 401, the union representing workers at the plant, said they were unable to confirm the identity of the worker who died over the weekend, but said he was devastated to learn of another death linked to the epidemic.

Factory workers accused the company of ignoring physical distancing protocols and trying to induce them to return to work after self-isolation, even after being tested positive for COVID-19.

NDP labor critic Christina Gray talks about the reopening of the Cargill slaughterhouse in High River, Alberta. 1:29

A live video inspection by Alberta Occupational Health and Safety, conducted after dozens of people at the plant were already ill, concluded that the site could remain open safely. A few days after the inspection, the provincial labor minister assured workers that the plant was safe. The following day, the first death of an employee was recorded.

The plant was closed for two weeks after the death, but reopened last week with increased safety protocols, the company said.

Earlier Monday, NDP labor critic Christina Gray renewed opposition call to shut down Cargill and initiate external investigation into the outbreak, citing a recent CBC News report that the company had not engaged worker representation in the internal investigation into its outbreak.

“These workers had just seen hundreds of their colleagues contract a deadly virus. They have lost a colleague, they are worried about themselves, they are worried about what they can bring home with their families and they do not believe that their employer is remotely interested in ensuring their safety “, a she said.

“This is contrary to the OSH Act and abdicates their responsibility towards their employees. How the hell are you investigating worker safety and not including workers? You can not. How can we trust that this workplace is safe? How has this workplace kept you open? ”

There are currently two other outbreaks at meat processing facilities in Alberta.

At JBS in Brooks, there are 58 active cases of COVID-19 and 548 employees have recovered. And at Harmony’s in Balzac, there are 16 active cases of COVID-19 and 22 have recovered. Both factories remain open.


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