Ontario’s “essential” workers account for more workplace deaths from COVID-19 than any other sector

Ontario’s “essential” workers account for more workplace deaths from COVID-19 than any other sector

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, which is often viewed as a higher priority. (Tara Ball, The Washington Post)

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, which is often viewed as a higher priority. (Tara Ball, The Washington Post)

The number of people working in crucial sectors such as food processing and public health care has swelled to more than a million workers over the past year as businesses have shuttered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial government has revealed.

At any given time, there have been about 600,000 workers across the province who have been furloughed because of the crisis, which has paralyzed the economy and shuttered about 80% of all businesses across the country — and more than a million across the province.

Ontario’s “essential” sector workers in manufacturing accounted for more workplace deaths from the virus than any other sector last year — even health care, which is often viewed as a higher priority, according to data released by the provincial government on Wednesday.

The list of essential workers includes people who make equipment and supplies for food production and other basic goods, as well as public health care workers, social assistance workers, paramedics, health inspectors and lab technicians.

“It’s a tragic situation, and it’s heart-breaking to see families lose their husbands and wives, their sons and daughters,” the province’s acting labour minister, Lisa Thompson, said in a statement. “We have been working very hard to make sure no one loses their health-care-caregiver or family member this year, but this is a call to action.

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