January 18th, 2021

Alberta RCMP reviewing whether COVID-19 death of meat-plant worker was criminal

By The Canadian Press on January 11, 2021.

The Cargill beef plant in High River, Alta., is shown on Thursday, April 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – RCMP in Alberta are reviewing whether the COVID-19 death of a worker at a Cargill meat-packing plant last spring is a criminal matter.

Cpl. Tammy Keibel, district media relations officer for southern Alberta, one of the worker’s family members dropped off an information package at the RCMP’s High River detachment south of Calgary on Friday.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 says Benito Quesada’s family took a courageous step by asking police to investigate Cargill for criminal negligence.

Quesada, a 51-year-old shop steward with the union, was one of two workers at Cargill’s plant near High River to die from COVID-19 when the virus infected nearly half of 2,200 employees.

A class-action lawsuit filed against Cargill last summer alleges the U.S. company failed to take reasonable precautions to protect its workers.

Cargill spokesman Daniel Sullivan says the company can’t comment on the latest complaint because it hasn’t seen it or been contacted by the RCMP.

He says employee safety is the company’s top priority and Cargill has worked with health authorities to add new measures during the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021.

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