LONDON – London NDP MPPs Peggy Sattler, Teresa Armstrong and Terence Kernaghan have released a statement in response to the temporary closure of the Cargill poultry processing plant in London after 82 workers tested positive for COVID-19:
“The outbreak at Cargill is deeply concerning for our community, and we hope every worker infected makes a full recovery. Essential workers are putting their own health at risk every day to keep food on our tables, and we need to do everything possible to protect them.
We know that workplaces are major sites of transmission for this virus, and the new variants put workers at even greater risk during the third wave. The Ford government promised to vaccinate essential workers as a priority, but the vaccine rollout has continued to be sloppy, confusing, and has failed to reach those who we need to protect. We need to vaccinate essential workers now, before we see more workplace outbreaks and more lives lost. Yesterday, the province announced that it would be the employer’s responsibility to set up, operate and fund onsite vaccination clinics as well as employer-sponsored offsite community clinics. Once again, the Premier is passing the buck instead of doing his job.
Major outbreaks like this once again show the critical importance of paid sick days for every worker in our province. Paid sick days allow workers to stay home when they have symptoms, and will prevent more outbreaks. While Cargill is paying employees while the plant is shutdown, many employers are not providing that support.
The Ford government still stubbornly refuses to listen to the Official Opposition NDP and public health experts who have said from the beginning of the pandemic that paid sick days save lives. Without paid sick days and paid time off to vaccinate, and with employers forced to deal with the expense and logistics of onsite vaccine clinics, the premier is effectively saying ‘you’re on your own’ to our frontline heroes.”