Canadian Manufacturing

Quebec workers board says five COVID-19 deaths in 2021 linked to workplaces

Food and drink manufacturing facilities were the most affected, the study found.

May 6, 2022   The Canadian Press

Five Quebec workers died of COVID-19 infections that were acquired on the job in 2021, according to the province’s workers compensation board.

The board, called Commission des normes de l’equite de la sante et de la securite du travail, said it has accepted a total of 15 claims made by the estates of people who died from workplace-acquired COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, spokesman Antoine Leclerc-Loiselle said in an email. Another three deaths remain under investigation, he added.

In a separate study, Montreal’s health department said that during the first three waves of the pandemic, workers in the city’s manufacturing sector and in its transport and warehousing sector were more likely to catch COVID-19 at work compared with employees in other industries.

The study, released May 5, found that those two sectors accounted for 37 per cent of workplace outbreaks in the city between March 2020 and July 2021, even though they employed 22 per cent of people who worked in person during the pandemic.

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Dr. Alexandra Kossowski, with the public health department, said those two sectors led to more COVID-19 outbreaks likely because businesses in manufacturing and in transport and warehousing stayed open for longer periods compared with restaurants and retail stores.

“We had workers who are on-site and who were there for a lot more days during the pandemic,” she said in an interview on May 5.

Food and drink manufacturing facilities were the most affected, the study found.

The number of workplace outbreaks and the number of workers infected rose from the first wave to the second, only to fall in the third wave, the study revealed. Kossowski credited the third-wave drop in workplace outbreaks and infections to vaccination.

Kossowski said it’s not possible to compare the ongoing sixth wave of the pandemic with the third wave because of a lack of data.

“We no longer have access to the data that was available during the first three waves, notably, because with the arrival of Omicron, the testing and tracing capacity was rapidly exceeded,” she said.

The study did not include the health and social services sector, correctional institutions, placement agencies or public transit. The city’s police and fire services were also excluded.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported a 57-patient decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations on May 5 and 18 more deaths linked to the disease. The Health Department said 2,119 people were in hospital with COVID-19, including 64 people in intensive care, a decline of 14 from the day before. It said 21,313 doses of vaccine were administered in the past 24 hours, including 18,783 fourth doses.