Four Unifor members die in matter of days

Photos of Luc Belanger, Antonio Genova, Gérald Lévesque and Amarprit Sandhu.

Four Unifor members in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick passed away in less than a week, with at least three of the deaths work related and two due to COVID-19.

“This is just devastating. My first thoughts go to their families, who said goodbye to their loved ones in the morning, never to see them again,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

“We must do all we can to prevent work-related deaths and injuries.”

Local 81 member Gérald Lévesque, 63, a cable repair technician with Bell Canada, was killed April 1 when he was electrocuted while performing his duties in Saint-Sauveur, Quebec. He lived in Sainte-Adèle and leaves his partner, Martine, and a son.

“One death at work is always one too many deaths. It should never happen, but unfortunately it happens too often,” said Quebec Director Renaud Gagné.

“The great Unifor family is in mourning today and our thoughts are with his family and colleagues on this sad day.”

Just four days later on April 5, Amarprit Sandhu, 44, a Local 4003/Council 4000 member working for CNTL, was involved in a motor vehicle accident and pronounced dead on the scene.

The incident occurred at a customers facility as Sandhu was preparing to return to CNs Intermodal Terminal, only two minutes away. He leaves a wife and three daughters.

“This is truly such a tragic loss. All of us in the Brampton CNTL units have heavy hearts and his absence will be felt dearly,” said Satinder Singh, Local Chair for Local 4003.

That same day, Local 40 member Antonio Genova, 56, died from COVID-19. He worked as a service technician at Yorkdale Ford Lincoln.

A COVID-19 outbreak was declared March 16 by Toronto Public Health at the Toronto auto dealership with at least eight people infected, including Genova. He leaves a wife, Cristina Letargo, and three children.

“Our thoughts today are with Antonio’s family and his co-workers, who are struggling to come to terms with what has happened. Antonio’s death and the COVID-19 outbreak declared in his workplace underline the need to take this pandemic seriously,” said Local 40 President David Amow.

In New Brunswick, Unifor Local 94 member Luc Belanger passed away in hospital on April 6 while on a respirator, receiving treatment after contracting COVID-19.

Belanger, 38, worked at Boise All Joist in St-Jacques, New Brunswick, where about 20 workers are in isolation as a precautionary measure. Belanger leaves a wife and daughter.

“Losing someone so young is very difficult for all of us, and especially his family. We need to work collectively to get out communities through this devastating pandemic,” said Mario Theriault, the Unifor National Representative for the local.

Unifor will honour these members and all workers who have died on the job this year on April 28 on the National Day of Mourning.