Toronto

Canada Post employee with COVID-19 dies amid outbreak at Mississauga plant

A Canada Post employee in his 60s who worked at the Crown corporation's Gateway East facility in Mississauga, Ont., and contracted COVID-19 earlier this month has died.

Man worked at Gateway East but was already isolating before 350 employees and contractors were sent home

Workers at the Gateway postal facility in Mississauga, Ont. are pictured on Jan. 20. Canada Post has confirmed a major outbreak of COVID-19 at the plant — the largest mail facility in the country. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

A Canada Post employee who worked at the Crown corporation's Gateway East facility in Mississauga, Ont., and contracted COVID-19 earlier this month has died.

In a statement Wednesday, Canada Post spokesperson Phil Legault said the employee was last at the facility on Jan. 18. 

"We offer our deepest sympathies to the family as they mourn the loss and respect their privacy during this difficult time," Legault said.

"We are focused on supporting our employees who have lost a colleague while ensuring we continue to stringently follow the guidance and direction from Peel Public Health."

Jan Simpson, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), confirmed to CBC News that the man who died was a night shift worker in his 60s. 

Last Friday, about 350 employees and contractors who work the same shift at the plant just west of Toronto were told to leave work and go into a 14-day isolation. Legault said then that the move was a precautionary measure taken on the advice of Peel Public Health.

Simpson said that the man was not one of the 350 staff workers who were sent home that day as he was already in self-isolation after getting tested himself.

Meanwhile, Peel Region's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said Canada Post has followed all recommendations from the public health unit during this outbreak and has implemented "rigorous" measures to keep its employees safe. 

"This includes infection prevention and control measures, shift closure and rapid, on-site testing to help stop its current outbreak," Loh said in a statement to CBC News. 

The investigation into the active outbreak is ongoing. 

Union demands answers

On Wednesday, CUPW issued a statement demanding answers from the Crown corporation and public health authorities. 

"We've been told that the cause of death is unknown, however, we do know that the member had recently tested positive for COVID-19 and worked at the Gateway East facility where an outbreak was declared earlier this month," the statement reads.

"Postal workers have been on the front lines since the beginning of the pandemic, making sure society can function. They are worried and tired."

As of Tuesday, there had been 224 confirmed COVID-19 cases among the 4,500 people who work at the facility. All of those cases had occurred since Jan. 1.

Canada Post has cautioned that, given the temporary shift changes, customers should expect shipping delays. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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