(Courtesy Shaylyn Montour)
On May 15, Thomas Montour found out that one of his colleagues had tested positive for COVID-19. He immediately told his daughter, Shaylyn Montour, because they reside in the same household.
Montour works at Terrapure Environmental, an industrial waste management plant specializing in environmental and recycling services, located in Ste. Catherine.
“When my dad came home, he had symptoms,” said Shaylyn. “But we thought it could be because he had been working crazy hours and he was just tired. I called for him to get tested, but they said they would wait until Tuesday and check back with us,” she said.
By Saturday, May 16, Shaylyn had begun exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms as well. She said she had a really bad headache and started to feel sluggish. And then it got worse.
“Tuesday, I called for an appointment to get tested (at the Kahnawake drive-through testing site). They said it could take up to 72 hours to get the results. Anna Laberge (Hospital) called the next day to let us know our tests were positive,” she said.
Both father and daughter continue to quarantine at home while they fight the virus. According to Shaylyn, her father has begun to feel better, so he has been making sure that she eats and keeps hydrated.
“It’s like gravity is pushing down on you when you try to move – heaviness, weakness, pain. As of today (mid-week), I am weak, tired, and have a shortness of breath when I move around,” she said.
The Montours are angry because they believe that Terrapure did not take the appropriate precautionary measures and did not do enough to protect the health and safety of their 140 employees.
“A guy at his job went to the hospital for liver issues, and they had to test him. So, my dad found out accidentally. Since then, they have 40 cases, and some guys got their family sick too.
“His company was not enforcing the proper distancing. Although they try to claim they were. They’re trying to cover it up,” she said.
Last Friday, a report in the Journal Le Reflet confirmed that 28 employees had tested positive at Terrapure.
Louis Begin, the president of the Federation de l’Industrie Manufacturiere that represents the plant’s employees, said that some employees that had tested negative for COVID-19 were told that they had to quarantine for 72 hours. Others were told to go back to work immediately, and certain employees continued work and were never tested, according to Begin.
Benoit Deschenes, the vice-president of manufacturing operations at Terrapure, told The Eastern Door that the company had many health and safety measures in place to ensure the security of all of employees.
“We are an essential service, so we continued our operations. We had no issues for two months, and then two weeks ago, our first positive case was confirmed,” said Deschenes.
“During the weekend, a few other employees were confirmed positive. So, we made a decision to shut down the plant immediately (on May 17). The whole plant was cleaned, and we reviewed all of our measures. We hired specialists to review all of our protocols, and we realized that there were two or three areas that needed improvement,” he said.
Deschenes emphasized that prior to the first positive case of COVID-19, the plant had followed all precautionary measures advised by Public health, including sanitizing the entire plant every week and had ramped up cleaning and disinfecting.
“We put social distancing measures in place and changed employees’ schedules to avoid close contact. We did it in collaboration with the union,” said Deschenes.
He also said that almost all employees had now been tested.
However, it is of little comfort for the Montours, who believe that the plant is responsible for getting them sick.
“I want them exposed. My dad had worked there 42 years, and that’s how they thank him,” said Shaylyn.
Terrapure will reopen on June 1 at 50 percent workforce capacity.