The latest migrant worker to die from COVID-19 on a southwestern Ontario farm has been identified as a 55-year-old father of four from Mexico.
The Migrant Rights Network, a group that advocates on behalf of the thousands of workers who come to Canada every year, identified the man as Juan López Chaparro, of Mexico.
Chaparro has been coming to Canada since 2010 to work on area farms, the group said. He was working on a farm near Simcoe, Ont., for Scotlynn Group, which currently has 217 positive cases involving migrant workers and farm employees.
He died June 20 at University Hospital in London, Ont. He is the third migrant worker from Ontario to die of the coronavirus, and an example of why migrant workers need more rights, advocates say.
“Juan’s death should not have happened,” said Karen Cocq, a spokesperson for the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.
Chaparro was among the first wave of migrant workers at Scotlynn Farms to fall ill, and was taken to Norfolk County hospital in May before being transferred to London hospital in early June, Cocq said.
“These workers didn’t have access to interpreters when they were first admitted and they had nobody to speak to them in Spanish for about three days when they were first admitted. Their biggest concerns were that they wanted someone to be in contact with their families,” she said.
Migrant workers who arrived in Canada to work had to quarantine for two weeks and only started getting sick after arriving at their workplaces and coming in contact with Canadians, advocates say.
Changes needed, advocates say
“Some of these workers don’t have Canadian phone numbers, they only have access to WhatsApp, and when Juan was first admitted he was very concerned that no one had been in contact with his family and requested support for that from us.”
One of Cocq’s colleagues was the last person who spoke to Chaparro before he was put on a ventilator.
“We have been in contact with a number of workers from Scotlynn. It’s a very large operation and we’ve heard a lot of concerns from workers about the housing conditions,” Cocq said. “The workers have complained from the very beginning of the outbreak that they were not being provided with any personal protective equipment.”
CBC News has reached out to Scotlynn Farms on multiple occasions and will update this story when we hear from them.
The Migrant Rights Network is calling on the federal government to give permanent residence status to all migrant workers, so they can have access to the same rights as their Canadian counterparts.