Ontario Labour Ministry investigates Hamilton Tim Hortons worker's COVID-19 safety complaints

Ontario's Ministry of Labour is investigating complaints from a Hamilton Tim Hortons worker who says public health's cleaning protocols didn't go far enough. Staff say they have safety concerns.

Tim Hortons says it's working with the restaurant owner to ensure COVID-19 protocols are followed

A sign on a Main Street East Tim Hortons says the location is closed because of an "evolving health situation." (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Ontario's Ministry of Labour is investigating complaints from a Tim Hortons worker in Hamilton who says public health's cleaning protocols didn't go far enough.

The ministry says a worker complained on Sunday about the store on 257 Main St. E.

"Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work. Any worker who does not feel safe should speak to their supervisor, health and safety representative or joint health and safety committee," the ministry said in a statement.

"If the matter cannot be resolved, they should contact our ministry so we can investigate."

Scott Thompson, a Tim Hortons baker who works at the stores on 257 Main St. E. and 200 Barton St. E., who filed the complaint, said he and others didn't feel safe after the outbreak on Barton because staff work between both stores to cover shifts.

That outbreak on Barton has two infected staff members and screened positive for the B117 variant first seen in the U.K.

Thompson, 52, and his colleague, Brandon De Lullo, say another staff member at the Main and Wellington store also has COVID-19.

'We're protecting everybody,' worker says

Thompson, who is immunocomprimised and has children with health issues, said both stores haven't been adequately cleaned.

"We need the store to follow the rules and regulations set out by the government," he said in an interview. "We need to make sure the floor is deep-cleaned. We need to make sure anybody going in is safe going forward.

"We're protecting everybody, not just ourselves ... we have some older customers I really care about."

Tim Hortons workers in Hamilton say they're concerned about their safety and cleanliness in local stores. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Thompson and De Lullo said they and others have refused to return to work until their concerns are addressed.  Tim Hortons wouldn't confirm that the Main Street store was closed, but on Thursday, a sign on the door said the store is closed because of an "evolving health situation."

De Lullo said he and Thompson learned of the Barton COVID-19 cases last Friday and have been isolating since at least Sunday.

Tim Hortons working with owner about concerns

Hamilton public health said it had no information about the store on 257 Main St. E., and hasn't received complaints about infection, prevention and control about the Barton location.

The owner did not respond to requests for comment. Tim Hortons said in a statement it is "working with the restaurant owner so they fully understand and follow all our strict COVID-19 standards and protocols."

"We take each individual case of COVID-19 very seriously and have strict standards and protocols in place to ensure team members and our guests are protected," the company said.

Tim Hortons at 257 Main St. E., has been closed since the weekend after employees say they didn't go in for work because of cleanliness concerns. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

"This includes closing impacted restaurants for proper cleaning and sanitization, working with the local public health unit and ensuring any potentially exposed team members self-isolate for 14 days."

The workers emphasize they have nothing against the Tim Hortons brand and parent organization, but felt they needed to file the complaint.

De Lullo said he just wants everyone to be safe.

"We don't need anybody getting sick from this ... I care about everybody at our store."