Advocates call for better supports after migrant worker dies from COVID-19 on Norfolk County farm
KITCHENER -- Advocates are calling for better supports and improved safety for migrant workers after a man died from COVID-19 on a Norfolk County farm.
Juan Lopez Chaparro is being remembered as one of the hardest workers with the Scottlyn Group in Vittoria.
Father Peter Ciallella broke the news to Chapparro's nephew that his uncle had died of COVID-19.
"We took him aside and allowed [him] to grieve," Father Ciallella said. "It was very, very hard."
Chapparo, a father of four, came from Mexico and had travelled to the farm for work every spring for the past 10 years.
The 55-year-old is the third migrant worker to die from COVID-19 complications in Ontario.
"He was always one of the first to be out in the fields to work," Ciallella said.
The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is calling for employment insurance and permanent residency for workers coming to Canada.
"It's imperative that the prime minister does do better," Executive Director Syed Hussan said. "It's imperative that these men who have died are the last ones that die. We need permanent resident status for all.
The farm is dealing with a major COVID-19 outbreak. More than 200 people have contracted the virus since May.
Scottlyn Group CEO Scott Biddle says the company has brought in counsellors and other supports for its workers.
"We are very saddened to see the loss of Mr. Chapparro," he said in a statement to CTV News Kitchener. "This has hit home for all of us."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says strict pandemic protocols are already in place on farms with migrant workers.
"Obviously there are some cars where those rules were not followed," Trudeau said Monday. "We are extremely concerned by that and there will be consequences."
Biddle says his farm has "followed protocols from the beginning."
"We welcome any investigation or surprise visit," he said. "We have been assured by our local health unit that we've been up to code."
The farm is paying for Chapparro's nephew to return to Mexico so he can mourn with his family.
"He’s been working here three years now," Biddle said.
Biddle says Chapparro's nephew plans to return to work in Canada in August.