Montreal

Amazon expands in Quebec, opening 5 new facilities

Amazon says it will open five facilities in Quebec that will create more than 1,000 jobs and speed up customer deliveries.

Amazon says it is a competitive employer, offering safe working environments, but employees disagree

Amazon has a pickup depot as far away as the Iqaluit airport and has announced several expansions in Canada in recent months. (Nick Murray/CBC News)

Amazon says it will open five facilities in Quebec that will create more than 1,000 jobs and speed up customer deliveries.

The U.S. online retail giant says it will add two sorting centres and its first three delivery stations in the province.

Its largest sorting centre in the province, a 520,000-square-foot facility — about the size of six Canadian football fields — will open this year in Coteau-du-Lac, about 60 kilometres west of Montreal. That will create at least 500 jobs.

Another centre will open in Longueuil, on Montreal's South Shore. Amazon's first sorting centre in Quebec opened last year, creating 500 jobs.

Three new delivery stations in 2021 and 2022 will employ hundreds. Two of the stations will be located in Laval and one in the Montreal suburb of Lachine.

Packages handled by Amazon go through a series of transportation networks before being delivered to people's doors. (Ross D. Franklin/The Associated Press)

Delivery stations "power the last mile" of Amazon's order fulfilment process, the company says in a Tuesday announcement.

Packages are transported to delivery stations from Amazon fulfilment and sorting centres, and then loaded into delivery vehicles.

Amazon opened its first operations facility in Quebec in Lachine last summer, creating 300 full-time jobs.

Amazon touts record as employer

Jean-Francois Héroux, site leader for Amazon Canada, says in a statement that the company is eager to expand in Quebec

"Our new facilities will help us meet our customers' growing demand for great products and faster delivery times while offering our Associates access to incredible career growth opportunities through on-the-job training and upskilling so they can reach their career aspirations," he says.

In the statement, Amazon touts its record as an employer that provides competitive pay and benefits.

Amazon has been extremely busy during the pandemic and Quebec is no exception as the province has ordered the closure of many retail stores. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Full-time employees' wages start at $16 per hour in Quebec, the company says, and workers can receive medical, vision and dental coverage, a group RRSP plan, stock awards and performance-based bonuses starting on day one.

"Amazon prioritizes the safety and health of its employees to provide a safe workplace," the announcement says. "The company invested more than $10 billion to help keep employees safe and deliver products to customers throughout 2020."

Workers concerned about safety

However, not all workers in Canada agree with the level of safety. In April, CBC reported that many employees were concerned about the lack of physical distancing inside facilities as the company expanded in Ontario.

Tim Bray, a former vice-president for Amazon, resigned in May after allegations that three Amazon employees were fired for voicing safety concerns.

There were similar apprehensions out west in September when the company announced it was expanding there as well.

The Warehouse Workers Centre, a Brampton, Ont.-based organization representing people in the warehouse and logistics sector, started a petition in 2020 that garnered hundreds of signatures claiming "Amazon is failing to protect our health."

The petition alleged that Amazon, which employs tens of thousands of people in Canada and has fulfilment centres in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, was refusing to give workers paid leave and not telling staff what their plans were if facilities were contaminated or suspected of being contaminated with COVID-19.

In October, Amazon said nearly 20,000 of its workers have tested positive or been presumed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

with files from The Canadian Press

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