March 18th, 2020
Ashton raises alarm over the potential spread of COVID-19 in workplaces in Our North
THOMPSON – Today, NDP MP Niki Ashton (Churchill Keewatinook-Aski) called on the federal government to take action to limit the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces and communities in Northern Manitoba, one of the areas in Canada that are most at risk. While Manitobans are being told to engage in social distancing and to stay home as much as possible, many workplaces remain open leaving workers at risk of catching the virus.
“Schools, colleges, universities and many retail stores have been shut down. Casinos have been shut down. Travel has been restricted,” said Ashton. “But workers are still concerned about the potential spread of the virus in workplaces where necessary preventive measures have not been adopted.”
Serious concern has been expressed regarding Manitoba Hydro’s Keeyask construction site where reports found five possible cases of COVID-19. Northern First Nations have called for the shutdown of the construction site and the need for mass testing for COVID-19 for their workers.
“We need immediate action to protect workers even if it requires shutting down the Keeyask construction site as First Nations are saying,” said Ashton. “There are 1300 workers on site. Their health should be a top priority and we must ensure that the virus does not spread beyond the camp into Northern communities.”
“People are also concerned that employers such as Vale are unable to apply strict social distancing and other protective provisions for their workers,” added Ashton. “People are also worried about the lack of support available, including paid leave for parents who now need to stay home and take care of their children.”
“Provincial and federal governments must work with employers in Northern Manitoba and across the country to ensure working people have financial supports in the weeks to come,” added Ashton. “We must all be in this together to keep each other safe.”