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 new data.
The Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board reported that just under 5,000 Ontario workers died while in the workplace from COVID-19 as of Sunday, March 8. Of those, 619 were people working in essential roles, the OSIB said.
The rest had various sorts of non-essential jobs including:
20 people who died as a result of their employers not paying a basic wages requirement
11 who died from work in “essential” roles
28 who died from what the OSIB described as “non-essential” roles
15 were from other sectors
The work numbers could be an underestimation, however, which could be why the Ontario government has been reluctant to declare a public health emergency and to declare that more public health care workers are needed.
It is also not clear just why the deaths happened in the first place.
For example, it’s possible that some workers in essential roles were killed by COVID-19 while working, as well as by other illnesses like heart attacks and strokes.
To be more precise, it’s very possible that many Ontario workers died because they were forced to do something that caused them to contract fatal illness. A pandemic is a very stressful time even if the job is not particularly dangerous.
This will be an ongoing issue when Ontario releases figures for the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and the total number of positive tests.
We will have a better idea of what happened in our workplaces over the past week or so once the OSIB releases those figures and the Ontario government release data on how many Ontarians are working in essential jobs.
A public health emergency