COVID-19 is proving to be a tough adversary as we manage through the fourth wave of the pandemic. In many workplaces across Canada workers have both contracted and died from COVID-19, the culprit of the spread often being lax health and safety protocols. Often numbers of workers sick with COVID-19 are officially underreported, and proving COVID-19 is contracted in the workplace is an uphill battle.
From meat processing plants, retail, healthcare and air transportation, outbreaks have been all too common. In some cases, an outbreak warranted closures until the number of cases reduced, and proper protocols were followed; in others, workers continued working through an outbreak, putting their lives on the line.
Unfortunately, one such tragic incident recently affected an IAM union community. An IAM member had fallen ill, and after testing positive for COVID-19 had stayed home. The worker’s condition quickly deteriorated and despite all efforts, tragically, the virus took our member’s life far too quickly. This is a loss felt deeply by the member’s family and co-workers.
WSIB became quickly involved and the union assisted the deceased member’s family in proceedings. The WSIB found that the member had indeed contracted the virus in the workplace, and ruled that the family was entitled to benefits. While the ruling is a small light at the end of the tunnel, and gives some justice for a life lost so tragically and early, it by no means heals the loss family and friends feel.
We encourage all members who have gotten sick from COVID-19, and suspect it was from their workplace to file a claim with the worker’s compensation board in your province. COVID-19 is unpredictable, and can rapidly turn for the worse. Even if a claim is not approved, it documents the case should a worker develop complications. It also helps in case a second claim is filed should a person get sick a second time.
We remember all those workers who have gotten sick with COVID-19, who have been seriously impacted, who have died, and who continue to work in challenging conditions.