Death of 13-year-old girl from COVID-19 in Brampton, Ont. Sparks grief, anger and generosity
According to the Globe and Mail newspaper, Emily had been showing symptoms for the past week similar to those who had put her mother in hospital with coronavirus disease. Her vaccinated father, the bread winner of the family, feared the hospital might not be able to treat his daughter and chose to keep her at home – where her brother also lives – and tried to treat her.
Instead, Emily abruptly took a turn for the worse and became one of the youngest victims of the pandemic in the country.
“It was real when I found her in bed,” Carlos Viegas told The Globe. “I put my head against his chest and didn’t feel a thing. No heartbeat. No nothing. No breathing. “
Brampton is one of the worst COVID-19 hotspots in Canada due to several workplace outbreaks. Health professionals and union activists have long argued that the province has failed to shut down infected workplaces and designate their workers as a vaccination priority.
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who was planning to raise the tragedy in the House of Commons, said Emily’s father did not have paid sick leave.
“Emily, 13, didn’t have to die,” Singh said. “We have to make sure there is paid sick leave.”
A private member’s bill that would have made paid sick leave mandatory failed in the Ontario legislature on Monday, with Ford’s Progressive Conservatives voting 55 to 20. Ford said last week that his government would adopt a sick leave policy that would fill “gaps” in a federal benefit.
Several politicians in the region took to social media to express their condolences, including Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton, who called Emily’s death “beyond heartbreaking.”
“As a parent, I’m lost for words,” he said. “Appalling. We can never underestimate the severity of COVID-19 and its variants.”
Likewise, Mayor Bonnie Crombie of neighboring Mississauga, Ont., Called the loss of such a young person to the virus “truly heartbreaking.”
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called Emily’s death “heartbreaking.”
Gurratan Singh, the provincial representative of the Brampton East NDP, said the city was in a pandemic “crisis”, with people dying at an alarming rate. Brampton has also fallen behind in terms of access to vaccines, said Singh, who accused the Ford government of abandoning the city just northwest of Toronto.
In response, Health Minister Christine Elliott said Brampton had received “significant” aid.
“There is no indication that they are receiving less than what they are entitled to,” Elliott told the Legislature, where a minute of silence took place on Monday. “Emily’s death is truly a tragedy.”
Ontario Chief Coroner Dirk Huyer last week said more people were suddenly dying at home from COVID-19 without calling an ambulance. Huyer said it was too early to explain why this could be happening.
The Dufferin-Peel District Catholic School Board said it was focusing on supporting staff and students affected by Emily’s death.
A crowdfunding initiative to raise funds for the affected family has exceeded $ 73,000, well above its original goal of $ 10,000.
Adrian Goddard, a friend of Emily’s dad who organized the fundraiser, said the money will be used to pay for funeral and burial costs.
“Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult and unhappy time,” Goddard wrote.
Emily’s dad is also a well-known local ball hockey referee. The Ontario Ball Hockey Association expressed its sympathies.
“We regret to inform you that Carlos Viegas lost his daughter Emily Victoria Viegas to COVID last week and that she was only 13 years old,” the association said in a tweet to the ball hockey community .
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 26, 2021.
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press