The most recent person to pass away from the COVID-19 outbreak is also the youngest in for the province. A 48-year-old grocery store employee from Bowmanville, Ontario, named Kieth Sanders. He died on Wednesday after being admitted to hospital a week earlier, according to the Toronto Sun.
Saunders death also marks the youngest so far in the province—one of six in what has been deadliest 24-hour period in Ontario since the pandemic began.
“I love you my wolverine,” wrote his wife Katy on Facebook Thursday evening, describing her late husband as her "gentle giant."
“Forever and always your wife and silver fox. You fought till your last breath. We will be together again soon.” wrote Katy.
Saunders worked at the Real Canadian Superstore on Gibb St. in Oshawa.
He was admitted to hospital on March 19, shortly after exhibiting symptoms. Saunder was placed in intensive care while awaiting his test results, however his condition quickly began to deteriorate and by Wednesday, he had died.
Grocery store employees are working on the front-lines of the coronavirus pandemic, being forced to deal with consumer panic buying and shelves that are in constant need of restocking.
“We are urgently pressing senior company officials to implement additional measures to protect all front-line workers,” wrote Wayne Hanley, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Canada Local 1006A. His union represents employees at the Gibb St. grocery store. Hanley also expressed his sympathy for the loss of Saunders. “As always, Local 1006A is there for all members during these difficult times.”
Saunders had previously been a UFCW member for 24 years, however he transferred to a non-union position in the store a few years ago.
On a slightly more positive note, the Local 1006A has been successful in securing hazard pay for their 25,000 members working at Loblaw-owned grocery stores just last week. They have also initiated efforts to improve safety for workers such as Plexiglas shields and increased access to hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment.
There have been 15 deaths related to COVID-19 infections in Ontario, out of a national total of 39 as March 27.