Quarantined temporary foreign worker dies in Windsor-Essex

A crop in Essex County, Ont., on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (Ricardo Veneza / CTV Windsor)

The Ministry of Labour is investigating after a temporary foreign worker who was quarantining due to COVID-19 died in Windsor-Essex.

A spokesperson said on Jan. 17, the ministry received a report of a temporary foreign worker who passed away during their quarantine before starting work at a farm.

“Leamington OPP and a liaison officer from the consulate were onsite during the MLTSD investigation,” said MOL spokesperson Ciara Nardelli.

Nardelli said the coroner’s office is conducting an investigation to determine the cause of death.

Organizer for Justice for Migrant Workers Chris Ramsaroop tells CTV News the worker who died was from Jamaica.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit would not confirm the death or comment on the case.

“The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is responsible for ensuring that personal health information of individuals remains private and confidential in compliance with current legislation. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the WECHU is not able to confirm or deny a COVID-19 death in our community,” said a statement from the health unit.

Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai said he can share the public health service perspective in general.

“Anytime there’s an unforeseen event and that includes a death, we try to understand what the facts and the circumstances of that death are,” said Nesathurai.

Joseph Sbrocchi from the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association tells CTV News the worker is around 40 years old and was double vaccinated.

“Everywhere you turn everybody did everything right,” said Sbrocchi. “Our migrant workers, at least in the greenhouse sector is probably 90-95% double vaccinated and every precaution possible gets taken and yet every once in a while something like this happens.”

Sbrocchi said the worker had tested positive from a PCR swab and was isolating in the isolation hotel. He was found unresponsive on the morning of the Jan. 17.

Sbrocchi said he was seen around 6 p.m. the night before not in any distress and was ready to be released from quarantine the next day. He said when the farmer showed up in the morning for a wellness check and to release him, he was unresponsive.