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Emily Derouin’s COVID-19 symptoms began mildly enough, with her throat “feeling off” and fatigue.

The Toronto grocery worker, in her early 20s, began experiencing symptoms after weeks of working long hours at Toronto grocery store during the height of the pandemic– a busy time where the store was regularly packed and no customer limits enforced. 

Normally, Derouin would have worked through the mild symptoms but during the pandemic, she was vigilant and didn’t want to put her co-workers or customers’ health at risk. She immediately took action and called in sick. After consulting with her doctor, Derouin got tested right away, and her results came back positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, her symptoms continued to escalate.

"It’s the sickest I have ever been,” said Derouin. “There was a two-week stretch where every single day was bad.”

Now nearly two months later, Derouin is on the way to recovery, still experiencing symptoms but grateful to have the union by her side through one of the toughest battles of her life. Thanks to help from Local 1006A’s WSIB, and Health and Safety Departments, Derouin’s Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) case was allowed – meaning she is eligible for WSIB compensation as related to COVID-19 .

“I don’t know how anyone could do it alone,” she said. “It was super helpful to have the support of the union. Especially when I am sick, everyone at the union was helpful and it was good to have the information and guidance.”

Prior to contracting COVID-19, Derouin had been in contact with the union regarding her concerns about the health and safety situation at her location. At that time, 1006A assisted her in raising formal complaints about the store’s working conditions.

Derouin and the union kept a detailed record of those discussions and written concerns. After her diagnosis, 1006A assisted her in filling out the WSIB form and provided guidance for the reporting process to WSIB.

“This case illustrates the vital importance of contacting the union immediately if you believe you are working in unsafe conditions or have been diagnosed with COVID-19,” said President Wayne Hanley. “Remember you are not alone. Your union is here to protect you with a team of experts ready to assist you through these situations. It is vital for members to contact us early in the process so we can work together to help you resolve workplace issues or guide you through the WSIB process in case of a diagnosis.” 

Martha Villeda, 1006A’s WSIB Advocate assisted Derouin through the process, along with Rick Young, 1006A’s Health and Safety Representative.

“The importance of detailed documentation, with the employer and any medical staff, cannot be underestimated when filing a WSIB claim,” says Villeda.

Click here for more information on WSIB and COVID-19 exposure. 

The union is currently working to help Derouin, who is still experiencing symptoms, about the company’s request for her to return to work.

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