OTTAWA, ON, Jan. 24, 2021 – On Friday, January 22, Canada Post sent 350 afternoon shift workers from the Gateway East facility home to self-isolate for 14 days, based on the recommendations of Peel Public Health authority. This directive comes after positive COVID-19 cases continue to increase at the largest postal facility in the country.
The first outbreak reported saw 121 positive cases at the Mississauga Gateway East facility at 4567 Dixie Road, Wednesday but now the total number of positive cases of COVID-19 has risen to 182. More than 60 additional workers have tested positive since then following the widespread testing of one entire shift of workers, as per Peel Public Health’s recommendations.
Peel Public Health recommended on Friday that as “precautionary measure” to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus employees who work on that shift although they were not at work on Friday have been told not to return to work for 14 days starting on the last day of work.
A CBC report says workers being sent home include managers, union members, team leaders, support teams and cleaners on contract.
“We are pleased that public health authorities have finally made the right call, listened to the Union, and prioritized the health and safety of workers,” says Jan Simpson, CUPW National President. “Postal workers are on the front lines, helping people stay home and flatten the curve, but it should not be at the expense of their health and well-being.”
CUPW, the postal workers’ union says they continue to work with Canada Post and public health authorities to make sure health and safety protocols are adequate and enforced to prevent future outbreaks and keep workers safe. That means making sure the highest level of cleaning is done in the facility, proper protective equipment must be available to all workers, and physical distancing protocols are respected. Rapid testing also continues to be offered by Canada Post for all workers at the facility.
Canada Post says the most recent positive cases at the Mississauga facility have involved employees who were “either asymptomatic or did not believe they were exhibiting symptoms after conducting the mandatory self-screening.”
“We plan to continue into next week with the ongoing guidance and support of Peel Public Health. We are also working closely with the union on this proactive approach and employee participation has been strong,” reads a statement from Canada Post.
CUPW has also ensured that the quarantine leave provisions in the collective agreement are respected so members who are sent home will be paid while in isolation and away from work.
“Workers should not be penalized for needing to isolate and protect themselves, their families, their coworkers and their communities,” says Simpson.
“Unions have always fought for the health and safety of workers, and the pandemic has brought this issue to the forefront of society,” says Simpson. “In order for us to ensure safe workplaces, this must be a priority for everyone.”