Second migrant worker, 24, dies from COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex

WIndsor Regional Hospital reported Saturday the second death of a migrant worker in the Windsor-Essex region.

Health authorities plan to begin mass swabbing of approximately 8,000 workers in the region Tuesday

A 24-year-old migrant worker from Mexico died due to COVID-19 at Windsor Regional Hospital on Friday. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Windsor Regional Hospital is reporting the second death of a migrant worker in the Windsor-Essex region due to COVID-19.

The man was 24 years old and died Friday, hospital officials said the next day, adding he had first gone to Erie Shores HealthCare on June 1 from a hotel where he had been self-isolating. 

This is the second death of a migrant worker in the region. A 31-year-old man from Mexico who came to Ontario to work on a farm died of the virus last week

"The hospital sends its prayers to this young man, his family as well as that of the 31-year-old migrant worker who also passed away this week due to COVID-19," an update from the hospital read.

Officials say they have been in touch with the man's family in Mexico. 

The issue of COVID-19 on Southwestern Ontario farms was highlighted earlier this week by Ontario Premier Doug Ford after 80 of the 400 new positive cases were among migrant workers at those facilities. 

The premier said he was committed to addressing the problem at that time. 

Mass swabbing

The hospital also laid out a plan to begin a mass swabbing of migrant workers on Tuesday. Its goal is to test the approximately 8,000 migrant workers in the region. 

The testing will take place over a 10-14 day period. 

Workers are afraid, says advocate

Sonia Aviles, an organizer with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, said she has been in touch with hundreds of workers since COVID-19 began.  

She added, right now, the workers she's hearing from are afraid.

"To [die] alone in this country away from their families and we're now seeing that workers' worst nightmare is coming to be true," said Aviles.

She also said the deaths of both workers were preventable.

"This is part of the Canadian government, at all levels, failing to provide the protections to migrant farm workers," she said.

Sonia Aviles ia an organiser with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (submitted)

"We need the government to step in."

Her organization, she said, has been warning the government about the living and working conditions of migrant workers for years.

"Unfortunately, it has taken COVID to reveal what we've already known, what we've been hearing from workers for many years."