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Ontario farm 'devastated,' looking for answers after migrant worker's death in hotel quarantine

The death last month of a migrant worker while in hotel quarantine before starting his job in Ontario's Norfolk County has left his family, and farm staff and owners grieving and searching for answers. 

Romario Morgan, 22, died in his Mississauga room on April 29

Romario Morgan, 22, died on April 29, and was found unresponsive and flat on his back in a Mississauga, Ont., hotel room. He had been quarantining as part of rules for international travellers. The Scotland, Ont., farm that was set to employ him is still waiting to hear what happened. (Facebook)

The death last month of a migrant worker while in hotel quarantine before starting his job at Welsh Bros. farm in Ontario's Norfolk County has left his family, and farm staff and owners grieving and searching for answers.

Romario Morgan, a 22-year-old from St. Vincent, died April 29, and was found unresponsive and flat on his back in the Mississauga hotel. The cause of death is not yet known.

Charles Welsh, of Welsh Bros. family farm in Scotland, Ont., said Thursday that everyone is in mourning.

"We don't know what happened," he said, adding that the farm is waiting to hear back from investigators and officials.

"Everyone is very devastated here. It's terrible."

Morgan was staying in a hotel as part of mandatory 14-day isolation after his arrival in Canada.

Welsh said the farm has "no facts" about what happened.

"We're just very concerned about their family and what they're going through."

Worker in Canada to support family: sister

Morgan's older sister, Roshina Jack, told CBC News earlier this month he had received a first COVID-19 vaccination in early March before leaving the Caribbean nation. He was in Ontario to pick fruit, and his cousin had travelled to the province with him. 
Morgan's sister previously told CBC he was 'a very loving person. He went out there to make a life for his mom. He was the breadwinner for her.' (Facebook)

"My brother is a very loving person," said Jack in an interview from the St. Vincent capital of Kingstown. "He went out there to make a life for his mom. He was the breadwinner for her.

"He was doing everything that he can to make sure that his mom and two younger brothers survive."

Peel Regional Police said the death is not a criminal matter, so the service won't release any further information.

Coroner's report released before latest death

Earlier in April, a report by Ontario's deputy chief coroner about the COVID-19 deaths of three temporary foreign workers gave 35 recommendations, including better protections for workers, improved access to health care, and better communications between governments and agencies.

The three Mexican nationals died in May and June in 2020. All three were under age 60 and contracted COVID-19 after arriving to work on Ontario farms:

  • Bonifacio Eugenio-Romero, a pepper farm near Kingsville.
  • Rogelio Munoz Santos, a farm in Windsor-Essex.
  • Juan Lopez Chaparro, a vegetable farm near Simcoe.

Chris Ramsaroop, an organizer with Justice for Migrant Workers, said there should be an independent investigation into Morgan's death to determine if there's any connection to his work, suggesting a coroner's inquest.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Coroner confirmed Friday it's investigating "several deaths of farm workers," but declined to specify if Morgan was among them, citing privacy reasons.

Ramsaroop previously told CBC News there's a lack of access to health care, and should be changes to employment standards, and occupational health and safety laws to protect farm workers from dangerous conditions and infectious diseases.

"The most vulnerable have the least protections," he said at the time. "That should be an outrage to all of us."

With files from Muriel Draaisma, Derick Deonarain, Dalia Ashry

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