Migrant worker died during hotel quarantine, advocacy group says

·2 min read
An advocacy group said there are recent reports of at least five deaths of migrant workers that happened during their quarantine period after entering the country.   (CBC - image credit)
An advocacy group said there are recent reports of at least five deaths of migrant workers that happened during their quarantine period after entering the country. (CBC - image credit)

A Guatemalan migrant worker quarantining in the Sarnia area has died, CBC News has learned.

According to Justice for Migrant Workers, an advocacy group that raises awareness of the rights of temporary foreign workers, the father of two had worked in the Sarnia area for the last few years.

"His coworkers and his family are devastated," said Chris Ramsaroop, an organizer with Justice for Migrant Workers.

The worker was found in his quarantine hotel room on Monday, Ramsaroop said.

"Lambton Public Health reported a COVID-19 related death of an individual in the 30+ age range on June 14," a spokesperson for the health unit said when asked about the death. "As a health custodian, that is all the information Lambton Public Health can share at this time."

Under federal guidelines, foreign workers are required to test negative for COVID-19 before arriving to Canada. Upon their arrival, they are tested again. Ontario also set up a vaccination clinic for workers arriving at Toronto's Pearson Airport.

Workers then have to complete their mandatory, 14-day self-isolation period. If an employer provides the accommodation, workers must quarantine separate from non-quarantining colleagues.

This year at least five migrant workers across the province have died during quarantine, Ramsaroop said.

In April, a 22-year-old worker from St. Vincent was found unresponsive in a hotel in Mississauga while in quarantine ahead of starting his job at a Norfolk County farm.

Ramsaroop said there are recent reports of other deaths that took place in the same manner, including deaths of farm workers from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Mexico.

"There's many questions that are arising around what are the health supports workers are receiving during during the quarantine period. Why are so many workers dying? What are the underlying causes that are leading to these fatalities that are happening in communities across Canada?," he said.

Justice for Migrant Workers has been calling on independent investigations to uncover the circumstances surrounding migrant workers' deaths. Ramsaroop said coroner's inquests should be mandatory.

In April, the province's deputy chief coroner released a report following the deaths of three temporary foreign workers last year. The report contained 35 recommendations, including calls for improved access to health care and changes to establish better communication between governments and agencies involved in bring foreign workers to Canada.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting