Ottawa

Government promises plan to deal with air quality in Gatineau building

The government is promising it will come up with a new plan and do more tests to deal with bad air quality in the Terrasses de la Chaudière office complex in response to orders from a federal labour code inspector.

Terrasses de la Chaudière office complex has left employees feeling ill

The federal government is promising a plan to address air quality concerns in the Terrasses de la Chaudière complex. (Radio-Canada)

The government is promising it will come up with a new plan and do more tests to deal with bad air quality in the Terrasses de la Chaudière office complex in response to orders from a federal labour code inspector.

Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions (BGIS), the company responsible for maintenance in the Gatineau, Que., complex, which Public Services and Procurement Canada owns, sent a letter to occupants on Thursday. 

The letter promises a plan to improve air quality in the building, along with more testing, but so far neither the company or the government have specified a timeline for these improvements.The labour code inspector found the building's HVAC system was insufficient for the number of workers in the building. 

A CBC story on the building earlier this week identified that many workers experienced health problems they associated with the building's poor air quality.  

In addition to concerns that not enough air is flowing to certain parts of the building, there are also concerns about bats that have nested inside.

Radio-Canada reviewed an email exchange between employees about the issue, noting bat droppings had remained on a windowsill for weeks.

Workers shared this image of bat droppings on a windowsill in the complex. (Supplied)

Stepped up maintenance

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada said in an email Friday night they would be working to ensure there would be more inspections to look out for bats and their droppings, and that they would step up vacuuming in the building.

Greg McGillis, a regional vice-president with the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said the government needs to deal with the problems the labour inspections have identified. 

Much of what has come out in the last few days has taken us by surprise.- Greg McGillis, Public Service Alliance of Canada

"It is the government's own law, and as an employer they have a duty to their employees," he said.

McGillis said complaints about the building go back almost to its opening. He said the union was told the issues were being dealt with, but they weren't made aware of the most recent concerns.

"We have been reassured that this was being handled. Much of what has come out in the last few days has taken us by surprise," he said.  

Gatineau MP Steven MacKinnon, who is also parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, promised the federal government will deal with the problem.

He said the previous Conservative government did not invest enough in infrastructure, including in federally owned buildings.

With files from Stéphane Leclerc

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