Natyshak calls on government to protect migrant workers

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak in Windsor, March 15, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

A local member of provincial parliament has asked for protection of one of the largest groups currently susceptible to coronavirus.

With a recent increase of COVID-19 cases among workers on farms and at greenhouses, Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, the NDP’s ethics and accountability critic, has asked the Ford government for additional resources in protecting these employees.

Dozens of migrant workers were affected by the virus at Greenhill Produce in Chatham-Kent in late April. In Norfolk County, 85 workers tested positive at the Vittoria farm this past weekend, with another 25 showing symptoms of the disease.

Also within the last few days, a temporary foreign worker in his 30s, seemingly healthy and with no underlying conditions, died of the virus in Windsor-Essex.

Natyshak told that the latter man’s passing casts a light on a serious problem.

“This young worker who tragically passed away due to COVID-19 really emphasizes the vulnerability that these workers face, and the fact that they aren’t treated as equally as other workers would under the law as we would see in other working conditions,” said Natyshak.

Premier Doug Ford has indicated that much will be done to protect these workers, but Natyshak has asked the government to go a step further.

“Every resource should be deployed to take a look at how we support them, how we isolate them and help them if they are diagnosed, and even protect them prior to their diagnosis,” said Natyshak. “That means potentially mobile onsite testing to ensure that anyone that is confirmed is isolated.”

Natyshak has also called for better oversight into the working conditions of these employees, namely the bunkhouses where many of these employees sleep.

-With files from Adelle Loiselle