Canada Post confirms an employee at its Gateway facility in Mississauga has died as a COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect the postal service and the safety of its workers.
It says this worker’s last day at the plant was January 18th.
Spokesperson Phil Legault says since Tuesday, another 26 confirmed cases have been confirmed in employees at the facility, bringing the new total infections of since January 1 to 250.
an additional 12 operators have contracted the virus since Monday, bringing a new total of 224 confirmed infections since January 1.
Legault says the employee tested positive for the virus on January 18 and later died over the weekend.
“We offer our deepest sympathies to the family as they mourn the loss and respect their privacy during this difficult time,” Legault said in an email.
“We are focused on supporting our employees who have lost a colleague while ensuring we continue to stringently follow the guidance and direction from Peel Public Health.”
The national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Jan Simpson, is calling for an investigation by Peel Public Health with a larger focus than what they’re already doing.
“So these workers understand and know what is causing the outbreak at their workplace and we need to let Canada Post, Public Health, and the government know that they need to be prioritized on the vaccine list after the healthcare workers,” Simpson says.
Simpson says the health and safety of members is not negotiable.
“We’ve been told that the cause of death is unknown, however, we do know that the member had recently tested positive for COVID-19, and worked at the Gateway East facility where an outbreak was declared earlier this month,” CUPW said.
“Postal workers have been on the front lines since the beginning of the pandemic, making sure society can function. They are worried and tired, and right now, demand answers from Canada Post and Public Health authorities.”
President of CUPW-Toronto Local Qaiser Maroof doubled down, saying the government is to blame for not adequately protecting employees and workers on these front lines.
“It is a very sad day for Postal Workers. It is [an] unnecessary loss [sic] of life and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends,” Maroof said in a statement issued to 680 NEWS.
“This tragedy underscores why we have been insisting to the government [sic] that the postal workers are indeed frontline workers.”
On Friday, the crown corporation instructed some workers to self-isolate after Peel Public Health (PPH) recommended the move in efforts to control further spread of the virus at the processing plant after the outbreak was first reported.
“…When will the Government ensure that our members are treated like front line workers? When will our health and safety [sic] be treated with high importance? The loss of one of our members is one too many,” Maroof continued.
Legault says Canada Post and PPH are working together to try to contain the spread of the virus at the Gateway location, including proactive testing of employees and having an on-site clinic.
Six cases were confirmed through the on-site testing, Legault says, and six cases from employees who went to a community clinic for testing.
As for the number of workers in self-isolation, Legault says the number changes daily with employees going into self-isolation, and coming out, but approximately 350 workers were instructed to isolate last Friday for 14 days from the last time they were in the facility.
“Canada Post will continue to follow the expert advice and analysis of Peel Public Health in how we respond to the situation at the facility, while enforcing our safety protocols with everyone in the facility,” Legault says.
If you are waiting on a parcel from Canada Post, expect delays, the postal service says.
Legault says the Gateway facility is still operating, but it is a major hub in Canada Post’s national network, “commercial customers and Canadians should expect delays with their parcels.”
“We have implemented contingency plans and continue to review the situation to minimize the impact on customers.”
The plans in place include moving and redirecting products to other processing plants and maintaining processing within the Gateway facility.
Customers can track their packages on Canada Post’s website and app.
“The health and safety of our members are not negotiable,” CUPW continued.
“We must do everything we can to keep them safe. Nothing less is acceptable.”