Canada Post announced that it closed one of its shifts at the Gateway East processing plant in Mississauga, Ontario, on January 22 after an unspecified number of employees tested positive for COVID-19.
The Crown corporation has implemented rapid testing at the facility, CBC News reported.
“Given the significance of the Gateway facility, we are evaluating and adapting our existing contingency plans to manage the impact on customers,” the statement released on January 23 read. “More details will be available soon.”
Heeding advice from Peel Public Health, the Crown corporation sent home 350 employees and contractors who worked on the same shift as a “precautionary measure” late Friday. The workers — union members, team leaders, managers and contracted cleaners — were instructed to self-isolate for the next 14 days.
Employees who were scheduled to work on that shift but did not work that day were also told to remain at home for two weeks, starting on their last day of work, spokesperson Phil Legault told CBC.
Over 4,500 people work at Gateway East, a processing facility that is “central to our entire national delivery and processing network,” according to Legault.
Union workers who were forced to self-isolate will still be compensated during their time away from work. In a news release, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) said that it was “pleased that public health authorities have finally made the right call” to prioritize employees’ wellbeing.
“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 National President Jan Simpson said.
“Workers should not be penalized for needing to isolate and protect themselves, their families, their coworkers and their communities.”
In its statement, Canada Post forewarned customers about possible shipping delays due to the closure of the processing facility, reminding them that the company will “continue to prioritize the safety of our employees and the communities we serve.”
Legault said that Canada Post will continue to enforce health and safety measures, with increased attention to traffic-dense areas like washrooms, lunchrooms, and locker rooms.
Canada Post has resumed voluntary testing at Gateway East, and those who opt not to test must undergo a 14-day self-isolation. It has also advised those who experience symptoms outside the workplace should get tested at an assessment centre.
Though Canada Post did not mention the number of employees that were tested positive over January 19 to 24 at its Mississauga facility, according to the CBC News report, that number is at 42.
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