A COVID-19 outbreak that forced the partial closure of one of Canada Post’s largest mail sorting plants was preceded by a planned party at the facilities.
The Gateway West facility in Mississauga was the location for a retirement party, held on April 9, during the province’s third lockdown in April, when Ontario was reporting over 4,000 COVID-19 cases a day. Pictures obtained by Global News show staff members hugging and standing close together behind a Happy Retirement sign. Many were not wearing masks.
An anonymous source from the facility told the outlet that management permitted the gathering to take place in the plant’s mech-oversize area located on the west side of the plant. It lasted about 50 minutes. A few days after the party in the facility's Shift 2, three employees who were at the gathering tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement to Yahoo News Canada, Canada Post spokesman Phil Legault said they were aware that a brief gathering was held for a retiring colleague in Gateway West in early April but “we simply do not allow gatherings within the facility for any reason. This is an unfortunate and isolated incident.”
“We have worked closely with Peel Public Health, our unions and employees to ensure we are consistently following all necessary safety measures at the facility,” the statement read. “We take this matter seriously and have talked directly to those involved. We have also reminded all employees at the facility of the importance of following safety rules.
The anonymous source who spoke to Global News said that management was aware of what was going on.
“They can’t throw a party like that without management allowing it to happen and a manager and a superintendent were right in the party, they’re in the pictures,” he said.
On April 27, the Peel Public Health ordered the employees of Shift 3 at the Toronto Exchange Office, within the Gateway West facility, to self-isolate as a result of an outbreak there. Twelve employees had tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous week.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said at a press conference this week that she was “extremely disappointed in the workers over at Canada Post,” as they’ve already been subjected to a number of shutdowns and closures at their plants.