The second worker from High River’s Cargill meat-processing plant to die due to COVID-19 is leaving behind a grieving wife and three young children.
Benito Quesada, 51, passed away over the weekend. UFCW president, Thomas Hesse, said Quesada came to Canada in for a better life for his family.
“This gentleman — Benito — was a temporary foreign worker who came from Mexico, acquired his residency and struggled to bring his family to this country,” Hesse said.
“He was a quiet, unassuming, gentle and kind man.”
Quesada was also an advocate for his colleagues. He has been working at the High River facility since October 2007.
“He had a strong sense of justice and he volunteered to be a worker representative, we call those shop stewards in our union,” Hesse said. “During his advocacy, he was exposed wandering around the plant.”
“This man was in a medically-induced coma on a respirator for weeks and weeks suffering.”
The union said they will support his family in any way possible.
“He’s paid very tragically with his life and Canada needs to turn their moral attention to this issue,” Hesse said.
The company issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying it was saddened by the loss of Benito Quesada.
“He was a dedicated employee for more than 12 years. We have been in recent contact with his family and have followed up to offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife and family.”
Cargill went on to say Quesada was a colleague and friend, serving as a partner in his role as a union steward.
“We are grieving with the community as we face loss and illness together. We will honour Mr. Quesada with his colleagues today and continue to fly our flag at half-mast in memory of our colleagues.”
As of Tuesday, 118 people in Alberta had died from COVID-19 and there were 45 new cases, bringing the province’s total to 6,345. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said 4,866 people have recovered.