Another shutdown at Canada’s largest postal processing plant
Canada post ordered to shut down an entire shift due to another Covid outbreak at the Gateway West facility in Mississauga. The directive was issued after twelve employees in one section of the plant tested positive for Covid-19 within a period of seven days.
On April 27, Peel Public Health (PPH) issued the order, under Section 22 of Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act. The closure applies to about 80 employees of Shift 3 in the Toronto Exchange Office at the Mississauga mail processing plant.
Employees were instructed to leave the workplace and self-isolate for 10 days, until at least May 7. This is not the first time the postal plant has been affected by an outbreak. Earlier this year, more than 200 employees tested positive for Covid-19 at the same facility. One employee died after contracting the virus.
While community and household spread remain the highest sources of exposure to Covid-19, workplace settings contribute to the rising case numbers. As of April 22, Peel Public health reported nearly 7% of cases over a 2-week period were attributable to the workplace.
Both Medical Officers of Health for Toronto and Peel Region have ordered the full or partial closure of businesses where five or more Covid-19 cases are associated with the workplaces over a span of two weeks. The aim of this new directive is to help curb the spread of the virus.
According to PPH, as of April 28, ten workplaces have been ordered to partially close, including two Amazon Fulfillment Centres and a Canadian Tire Distribution Centre. The partial closure of the Canada Post Gateway facility is the newest to join the list.
Canada Post Corporation (CPC) maintains that safety protocols and procedures are in place to keep staff safe and offers paid sick leave to employees. At the Gateway location, voluntary on-site rapid testing is available to all employees and contractors.
There is a call for greater access to vaccinations for essential workers who do not have the privilege to work from home. For example, Maple Lodge Farms (a chicken processing plant) hosted a pop-up vaccination clinic on April 27 at their Brampton plant to offer employees the opportunity to get inoculated. The company also plans to host similar clinics at their facilities in Mississauga over the next couple of weeks.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s Medical Officer of Health, said that three workplaces have been selected by ministry partners to offer pop-up clinics for employee vaccinations. No word yet if or when Canada Post will provide on-site vaccinations to their workers.
Toronto Local President, Qaiser Maroof of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers has spoken out for safer workplaces and priority access to vaccines, especially for essential workers who cannot work from home.