BY CLOVER STERLING
A Canada Post employee has died from COVID-19, the postal service confirmed Wednesday evening. The employee, a worker in his 60s who worked night shifts at the Gateway East facility on Dixie Road in Mississauga, last reported to work on Jan. 18 and was later confirmed to have the virus, though he was not part of the 350 workers who were ordered to quarantine after an outbreak at the facility, company spokesperson Phil Legault said.
“We offer our deepest sympathies to the family as they mourn the lost and respect their privacy during this difficult time,” said Legault. “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.”
As reported last week, numerous employees were sent home at the Dixie Facility after 121 employees tested positive for the virus. 350 workers at the facility, who all worked on the same shift at the site, were ordered into self-isolation for 14 days as a precautionary measure. Packages pass through a conveyor line at a Canada Post sorting facility, as seen in an undated photo.
The postal service confirmed Wednesday evening that an employee had died from COVID‐19, who was a man in his 60s who worked as part of a night shift. It was not known as of press time whether the employee who died had contact with any of the employees ordered into isolation, though a statement from Canada Post said he was not part of the employees ordered to stay home, as he had been isolating prior to the outbreak.
Shipping delays may occur, the postal service said late Wednesday. Last year, the facility faced a similar outbreak, when eight employees were confirmed to have the virus in Apr. 2020, prompting “precautionary deep cleaning” of the facility, which employs more than 3,500 workers.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is now demanding action and seeking answers from the government. The national president of the union, Jan Simpson is calling for an investigation, stating that its workers are “worried and tired.” “Let these workers understand and know what is causing the outbreak at their workplace,” said Simpson. “We need to let Canada Post, (Peel) Public Health and the government know that they need to prioritize (postal workers) on the vaccine list after their healthcare workers.”
Peel’s chief medical officer, Dr. Lawrence Loh, said Wednesday during a press conference that while he is not at liberty to discuss the employee’s cause of death or nature of the case, he emphasized that Canada Post is working with Peel Public Health to contain the spread by enforcing safety measures at its facility and testing employees at its onsite clinic, citing “rapid, onsite testing” to curb any additional cases.
Legault confirmed last week that the impact of testing at the facility is expected to make a dent in service levels. “These measures, combined with record-breaking volumes, will continue to have an impact on service,” said Legault.