They made doors, gum and jerry cans. Ontario’s ‘essential’ workers in manufacturing accounted for more workplace COVID deaths than any other sector — even health care workers, according to a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The report, which details the COVID-19 pandemic’s toll on Ontario’s workers in the ‘essential’ sector, examined more than 1,100 workplace deaths in Ontario between March 2020 and April 9, with more than half of them occurring in the food processing and related industries.
The report shows that workers in essential industries that account for 14% of the province’s total labour force, such as packaging and automotive assembly, were disproportionately at higher risk due to the pandemic.
It also showed that in food processing, essential industries, such as meat processing, accounted for more COVID-19 deaths than any other sector, including healthcare.
“Food processing is one of the most important industries for Ontario workers, and is responsible for almost three-fourths of all employment in Ontario,” said Brian Day, a policy analyst who contributed to the report. “The report shows us that, over the past six weeks, in the food sector, workers in essential industries were disproportionately more at risk of getting COVID-19 compared to the rest of the provincial workforce.”
The report’s findings are based on a review and statistical modelling of all the COVID-19 cases in Ontario since March 1, 2020.
Ontario has since launched the pandemic-response strategy, called pandemic plan, which lays out a series of measures to get the province through the crisis, including more testing, tracing of and isolation of the sick, and the closure of non-essential businesses.
“Our plan is to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, to slow the spread of the disease, and to improve the chances of recovering,” the province’s minister of training, colleges and universities, Kelvin Goertzen, said in a statement on March 16.
The report shows that in the food processing and related industries, workers were disproportionately at higher risk due to the pandemic. (Andrew Newton/Canadian Centre for