The past year, marked by a once-in-a-century pandemic, has seen 19 Unifor members die on the job and from the COVID-19 virus now entering a third wave of infections across the country.
“To lose even one member is difficult, and to see 19 die in just one year is simply devastating,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.
“Nineteen said goodbye to a loved one in the morning, never to see them again. Nineteen people died in entirely preventable ways. It is truly tragic.”
Unifor will hold an online commemoration for the lost members on April 28 at 7pm ET. Register online beforehand.
We remember every member lost.
Leonard Rodrigues, 61, Local 40 with Access Independent Living Services in Toronto, died of COVID-19 on Wednesday, May 6. Rodrigues was a personal support worker for more than 30 years providing care for those in need. He did his best to prevent the transmission of the virus by purchasing his own masks. His employer had advised him that PPE supplies were limited and they were being saved in case an employee or resident became sick with COVID-19. Rodrigues was sent home to self-isolate on April 6 after one of his co-workers tested positive for the virus. His symptoms worsened as he tested positive for the virus on April 26 and died 10 days later.
Edward Norman, 67, Scott Norman, 35, Jody Norman, 42, and Isaac Kettle, 33, all from St Lawrence, Newfoundland were reported overdue by family members on Monday, May 27. The next day, three bodies were recovered, one is still missing. The crew was snow crab fishing at the time of the incident. Three of the four were FFAW-Unifor members. The Norman family lost a father, a son and a nephew. The fourth crew member was a family friend. The 25-foot Sarah Anne fishing vessel had an emergency craft aboard but the men did not have time to access it.
Derrick Crooks, Local 414 member at Metro Warehouse in Etobicoke, Ont. died of COVID-19, Sunday, June 7. He was 62 and had been working at Metro for more than 30 years. A month prior to his hospitalization, Crooks was not feeling well and went home early from his shift. A few days later, he went into the hospital suffering from kidney stone pain. He tested positive for COVID-19 and did not return home.
Vince McIvor of Local 3000 at the KFC in Langford, B.C. had a medical emergency on July 18, and died while at work. There were four other members working who were offered EAP assistance. The restaurant was closed for the remainder of the day. McIvor was a shop steward and a lead who mobilized and motivated the membership. When the unit had meetings, strike votes etc, the membership came out in full, and hung around the parking lot for several hours, catching up on the latest news.
Colin Hurd, Local 4209 died on the job, Wednesday, October 21. Hurd, 51, was a driver at Kindersley Transport. He was involved in a collision between three semi trucks and died on the scene in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Hurd was a shop steward with CEP Local 605 and Unifor Local 4209. Hurd was a devoted Saskatchewan Roughrider fan, and member of the Legion. He enjoyed farming and time spent at the family farm near Pelly, SK.
Adam Baran, Local 4268 died on the job, Monday, October 26. Baran, 59, was a mechanic at Waste Management, Stoney Creek, Ontario. He was outside assisting a roll off driver when something went terribly wrong. Baran was a farmer, soldier, sailor and a mechanic for more than 32 years. He was also an active and devoted member of the Polish church and community. Baran leaves behind his wife Wieslawa, daughter Justina and son Patrick.
Carl Osmond with FFAW in Newfoundland and Labrador died on the job, Tuesday, December 1. Their vessel ran aground with eight crew members on board. Osmond, 61, died shortly after jumping into the water with his survival suit on. The other seven crew members survived. Osmond leaves his wife of 43 years Jane, sons Darren and Chad Osmond and their children.
Mike Patterson, Local 2002 died on the job Monday, December 7 at the age of 55. Patterson was working at Canadian Cargo North in Ottawa and fell from loading equipment at a height of approximately 20 feet to the pavement. He was taken to hospital by ambulance and passed away from his injuries. Patterson was the cherished husband of Lisa for 31 years and beloved father of Justin and Jeffrey Patterson. Patterson had an unparalleled work ethic and an effortless ability to lead. No matter the job, Patterson took great pride in being the best he could be, and making sure those around him were the best they could be.
Sheila Yakovishin, Local 2458 passed away from COVID-19 on December 31. Yakovishin, age 60 worked as a personal support worker for more than 30 years. Her workplace, the Berkshire Care Centre in Windsor, Ont. was in severe outbreak with 82 residents and 38 staff having tested positive for COVID-19. Yakovishin was known for her optimism, large heart and caring personality. She is remembered for the smiles she gave to so many when they needed it.
John Copsey, Local M1 passed away on January 25. Copsey, 54, was a radio anchor at Global BC/CKNW in Vancouver. Copsey’s voice was familiar to many Corus Radio network listeners in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto. John was passionate about music, horror films, theatre and public speaking. He leaves behind a family in Winnipeg, a girlfriend in the Lower Mainland, and a daughter in Calgary.
Gérald Lévesque, 63, Local 81 was killed on the job April. Lévesque was a cable repair technician with Bell Canada. He was electrocuted while performing his duties in Saint-Sauveur, Québec. He lived in Sainte-Adèle and leaves his partner Martine and son.
Amarprit Sandhu, Local 4003/Council 4000 died on the job April 5. Sandhu, 44, was employed by CNTL in Brampton and was involved in a motor vehicle accident. The incident occurred at a customer’s facility as Amarprit was preparing to return to CN’s Intermodal Terminal, only two minutes away. He leaves a wife and three daughters.
Antonio Genova, Local 40 member passed away as a result of COVID-19. Genova, 56, worked as a service technician at Yorkdale Ford Lincoln in Toronto. A COVID-19 outbreak was declared March 16 by Toronto Public Health at the auto dealership with at least eight people infected, including Antonio. He leaves a wife Christina and three children.
Luc Bélanger, Local 94 passed away from COVID-19. Bélanger, 38 worked at Boise All Joist in St-Jacques, New Brunswick where about 20 workers are in isolation as a precautionary measure. Luc leaves a wife and daughter.
Jim Nowakowski, Local 112 Angus Facilities passed away from COVID-19 April 22. Nowaskowski, 72, had been off work since spring 2020 on a leave of absence due to health concerns. Jim was fully vaccinated and was looking forward to returning to work. He was part of building maintenance at Angus Facilities and well-liked by his co-workers.
Edgar Poblacion, Local 303 passed away from COVID-19 on April 25. Poblacion, 62, worked at Scepter Canada for nearly 30 years as a production operator. He tested positive on April 5, and was hospitalized shortly thereafter. He leaves behind his daughter Annabelle Poblacion.