Canada Post has seen a surge in deliveries but many of its employees feel unsafe
As Canada is thrown into the throngs of a global health pandemic, precautions to protect frontline workers are being mobilized, but for Canada Post employees, many are saying it's not enough.
The Federal government has been working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by introducing social distancing measures and while many provinces have urged non-essential services to shut down, Canada Post remains open, albeit with reduced hours and a change to delivery procedures.
Canada Post, a crown corporation, is considered an essential service by the province of Ontario, at least, and will still be in operation during the state of emergency that's in effect.
Yet with the country on lock down and many people working from home while in self-isolation, Canada Post has been working through an increase in deliveries as more people order essential supplies and shop online.
Many people have spoken out on Twitter about what the government is doing to address this issue, what the measures being taken to protect workers are, and if they should be working at all.
Please protect your workers!!! Canada Post in Brampton has no gloves and no masks. This threatens the spread of this virus greatly! Do the right thing. Workers should stay home. Or at least consider a rotational schedule.— la tormenta (@_macadm) March 23, 2020
So far, measures like 'knock, drop and go' eliminate the need for people to sign for packages and reduce the risk of physical contact for field couriers.
@JustinTrudeau Social distancing is impossible for postal worker and We have little to no PPE for our safety. We want to social distance, we want to keep ourselves, our families, the public, safe, yet we work in fear. Is mail more imp. than our lives ? #COVID19 #canadapost— Mindy Haight (@MinnyAmstaff) March 23, 2020
But with a huge surge in deliveries, the safety of mailroom workers who might be in close proximity to each other remains a question.
Will someone ask about the Canada Post case? Postal workers are (and have in some cases) threatening to walk off the job. #COVID19NL— Carla Crotty (@CarlaCrotty) March 23, 2020
"We’ve eliminated the need for customers to sign for parcels at the door to minimize personal contact. If you have a parcel or mail to pick up at a post office, we ask you to practise social distancing if there are other customers waiting to pick up items," a press release from March 19 reads.
@TheCurrentCBC my husband works for Canada Post. We have vulnerable people at home, I agree with your guest & also want them to stop delivering non essential mail like flyers and unaddressed ad mail. Collating this stuff puts workers in close proximity 4 too much time.— Karen B (@karecana) March 23, 2020
Canada Post also said it will be reducing hours of operation, opening one hour later and closing one hour earlier, and is no longer guaranteeing delivery times.
@GovNL I work for a courier company that contracts from Canada Post. We have no union, and we are given nothing to help prevent the spread of covid19. They leave it to us to protect, when we cant get anything from stores as all sold. I am high risk, I live with high risk people— Tony Miller (@TonyMil53394760) March 23, 2020
"We have suspended normal delivery guarantees for our parcel service. Delivering safely without overburdening our people in these extraordinary circumstances may take a little more time."
Like many supermarkets across the country, it's also offering priority hours for seniors and vulnerable people at the start of each day, and suspending the 15-day hold period for parcels that will not see them returned to the sender after that time.
Despite these measures, a Canada Post employee at a sorting plant in St. John's was reported yesterday to have tested postive for a presumptive case of COVID-19. The worker was sent home and the plant shut down.
Neighbour works for Canada Post. Told me he was sent home due to employee testing positive for COVID19.— YYT Bayman (@Buck_Bayman) March 23, 2020
Many are concerned for both public-facing and back-end employees and their safety since they cannot work from home during the pandemic.
My mum works for Canada Post and told me that’s it’s been insanely busy because people are ordering things online. I asked her if workers are being compensated differently since they have to work during the pandemic. This was her response: pic.twitter.com/Up2Uey6MJQ— Your Problematic Bae (@TOPB0YZEE) March 23, 2020
Canada Post remains adamant that it's putting strict measures in place to encourage social distancing and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, like installing barriers for customer service workers, placing floor decals to indicate where people should lineup and asking that customers pay with cash or debit.
Meanwhile, a petition on CoWorker.org with over 8,542 signatures is calling for Canada Post to ensure the safety of its workforce.
"Canada Post employees deliver essential services, but the lack of communication and implementation of safety measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 on the work floor and to the general public is severely lacking," it reads.
It asks that Canada Post "put an immediate halt on the collation & delivery of flyers and other non-essential mail items," stagger employee start times and provide basic sanitary supplies like gloves, sanitizer spray and face masks.
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