Canada Post employees may be sent home if they choose to wear an N95 mask
Canada Post workers risk being sent home from work if they wear masks other than ones issued by the corporation, even if their masks are an upgrade in safety.
Employees who buy their own N95 masks and bring them to work are being told to switch to company issued cloth masks or risk being sent home.
“The mask requirements, like our vaccine mandate, are mandatory and necessary under direction from the (Employment and Social Development Canada [ESDC]),” a spokesperson for Canada Post said in an emailed statement. “Therefore anyone at work must comply.”
“If they don’t have the masks we’ve provided, we have additional masks and disposable medical masks on hand. If an employee still does not wish to comply, they are asked to leave the workplace.”
However, the office of the federal minister of labour told CTVNews.ca that there’s nothing in the Canada Labour Code or federal occupational health and safety regulations that prevents workers from wearing higher-quality face coverings.
“To add, there is no provision in the Code or COHSR that would prevent an employer from providing, or prevent an employee from wearing, respiratory protection in accordance with their Hazard Prevention Program. Employers can go above and beyond what they are required to do, either under the Code or as outlined in a direction issued by the Labour Program when contraventions are identified,” a spokesperson for Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan said in a statement.
The Winnipeg Free Press first reported on the federal government’s position after the newspaper featured the story of a Canada Post worker who was sent home over the mask issue.
Canada Post said Public Health Agency of Canada supports the use of cloth masks and that the company following directives from the ESDC that require employees to wear company supplied masks to ensure their quality.
“The company fully supports these guidelines and therefore requires all employees to wear a Canada Post-supplied face covering, which is either a reusable cloth face covering or a disposable medical mask,” Canada Post said.
“Canada Post continues to monitor best practices and recommendations with respect to face coverings, and will update our requirements accordingly.”
In an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca, Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) National President Jan Simpson said the union is “concerned” that Canada Post is refusing to allow its members to wear N95 masks.
“Research on the new Omicron variant has established it is more transmissible through shared air than earlier variants,” he said in the statement.
“The union has asked Canada Post to provide N95 masks or suitable alternatives to all postal workers, and at the very least, allow those who’ve purchased their own N95 or KN95 masks to wear them. As COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly, Canada Post Corporation should be doing everything in its power to protect postal workers, who continue to help people stay home and stay safe.”