Posted on Jan 11, 2021
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley issued the following statement regarding news that the RCMP will investigate the death of a worker related to the outbreak at the Cargill Foods meat processing plant in High River:
EDMONTON – Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley issued the following statement regarding news that the RCMP will investigate the death of a worker related to the outbreak at the Cargill Foods meat processing plant in High River:
“The COVID-19 outbreak at the Cargill meat processing plant in High River was the largest in North America. More than 950 workers tested positive and two died; Benito Quesada and Bui Thi Hiep. Health officials confirmed the outbreak contributed heavily to spread of the virus throughout High River and neighbouring communities, including northeast Calgary, a community that is still facing high numbers of cases and increased risk of transmission.
“This outbreak was devastating for families, and had serious and tragic consequences for our entire province. Through union advocacy and media investigations, we learned there were significant gaps in critical safety procedures. Workers have alleged they were intimidated and pressured to keep working—at times, without proper personal protective gear or physical barriers—despite positive tests. Concerns raised by the union representing the workers were ignored for weeks. And despite calls from myself, as well as NDP MLAs Christina Gray and Lorne Dach, for swift action from the UCP government to protect the health and safety of these workers, they refused to intervene. In fact, the UCP Agriculture Minister called the workers directly to tell them their workplace was 'safe' just days before the site was shut down.
“There are many unanswered questions, which is why today's confirmation that the RCMP will be investigating the circumstances of the Cargill outbreak is welcome news. These workers and their families deserve to know how their health and safety was considered in Cargill's decision to keep the plant open during the outbreak. They deserve answers.”