Temporary foreign worker from Philippines dies in central Alberta agricultural incident

·2 min read
Efren Reyes died at work on May 26 in Lacombe County. He was a temporary foreign worker with family in the Philippines. (Antonio Manahan - image credit)
Efren Reyes died at work on May 26 in Lacombe County. He was a temporary foreign worker with family in the Philippines. (Antonio Manahan - image credit)

Occupational Health and Safety is investigating after a temporary foreign worker from the Philippines died at work in central Alberta last month.

OHS spokesperson Natasha McKenzie said the fatality occurred at an agricultural site in Lacombe County on May 26.

Zaldy Patron, consul general for the Philippines in Calgary, identified the victim as Efren Reyes, a young man who came to Canada in 2019 and had been living in Wetaskiwin in housing provided by his employer, Elite Farm Services.

Patron said he has been in touch with Reyes's family in the Philippines, including his wife.

"Of course, they are devastated, very sad," Patron told CBC News on Thursday.

Madeleine Cummings/CBC
Madeleine Cummings/CBC

RCMP called the consulate the day Reyes died, Patron said. The consulate then contacted Reyes's employer to learn what had happened.

"We were told that there was an accident involving a Bobcat machine," he said.

"It apparently struck Mr. Reyes."

An emailed statement from Elite Management to CBC News said "we are saddened by the loss of one of our team members. Our sympathies and condolences go out to the family and those involved in the accident."

The statement said the incident is under investigation and the company is cooperating fully with authorities.

The company said it would not be providing further statements or interviews, "out of respect and privacy of our team members and their families."

Reyes's remains are in a funeral home, Patron said, and it is the employer's duty to repatriate them to the Philippines.

Patron said he has asked Reyes's employer to collect his personal belongings so they can also be sent back to the family.

A GoFundMe campaign to support Reyes's family has raised more than $38,000.

Antonio Manahan
Antonio Manahan

Patron said this is the first workplace death of a Filipino temporary foreign worker that has occurred since he arrived at the consulate in 2018.

"We hope that this won't happen again," he said.

The consul general also plans to follow up on the results of the investigation into the death and ensure Reyes's family receives any worker compensation benefits to which they are entitled.

The most recent annual report on workplace fatalities in Alberta, published last month, showed there were 129 occupational fatalities in 2019.

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