2nd health-care worker dies in Ontario after contracting COVID-19

A second health-care worker has died in Ontario after contracting COVID-19, a long-term care organization said Thursday.

Woman was in her 50s, worked at long-term care home in Scarborough, Ont.

Sienna Senior Living has confirmed the death of a support worker, a woman in her 50s, at one of its locations in Scarborough, called Altamont Care Community. (Linda Ward/CBC)

A second health-care worker has died in Ontario after contracting COVID-19, according to the long-term care centre where she worked.

Sienna Senior Living confirmed in a statement that a woman in her 50s has died. She worked at Altamont Care Community, a long-term care centre in Scarborough, Ont., a Toronto suburb.

"Today, we received the difficult news of the passing of a much-loved and valued team member from Altamont Care Community," said Altamont Care spokesperson Natalie Gokchenian in a statement. 

"On behalf of the entire team at Sienna Senior Living, we extend our deepest condolences to her family, loved ones, and colleagues."

The woman who died was a personal support worker who worked at the home for 31 years, said Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, a union that represents workers in long-term care homes,

Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, says 18 of the deceased woman's colleagues have also tested positive for COVID-19. (Supplied)

Stewart said the woman contracted the novel coronavirus in late March and died Thursday. 

"I'm feeling grief but yet I'm so angry at the situation," Stewart told CBC News. 

"Those people, who are predominantly women, get up in the morning and they hope by the end of the day that they don't get infected ... They pray that when they come home they don't make them sick, that they're not bringing the virus into the house."

'A lot of terrified workers'

Stewart said 18 of the deceased woman's colleagues have also tested positive for COVID-19.

"We've got a lot of terrified workers at the home right now afraid that they contracted, or God forbid they end up becoming ill like the co-worker did and passing away through this," Stewart said.

Last week, a 58-year-old health-care worker at Brampton Civic Hospital died of complications linked to COVID-19, marking the first time an Ontario hospital confirmed the death of one of its employees amid the pandemic.

William Osler Health System, which operates the hospital, made the announcement last Thursday.

"The health-care worker, a long-time [cleaner] with Osler's Brampton Civic Hospital, was being cared for in Brampton Civic Hospital's intensive care unit," the organization said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of long-term care and hospital workers across Ontario will stand in their workplaces for a minute of silence at 11 a.m. on Friday to honour their fallen colleagues. 

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says they will also reflect on the nearly 1,000 health-care workers — some of them fellow co-workers — who have tested positive for COVID-19, and all patients and residents they're caring for during the pandemic. 

CUPE says the health-care workers have a message for Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his health minister: "Much more must be done to protect us before any more are needlessly infected with the coronavirus."

As of midday Thursday, 980 health-care workers in the province had tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began. 

Health-care staff make up about 11 per cent of all reported COVID-19 cases in Ontario but make up only about three per cent of the province's population.