Local postman vindicated
OTTAWA — Canada Post says it will boost the quality of masks it provides to staff, but will still ban most employees from wearing respirators such as N95s.
“Canada Post is required to verify the safety of any respiratory device used in the workplace by an employee,” reads a policy issued to all staff last Thursday.
A week prior, the Crown corporation had come under national scrutiny after the Free Press revealed supervisors sent home Winnipeg letter-carrier Corey Gallagher because he insisted on wearing a high-quality respirator.
“I do enjoy my job; when I’m not being harassed about something like my safety, it’s really enjoyable,” he said.
Gallagher’s pregnant wife is immunocompromised and his child is too young to be vaccinated.
Yet Canada Post insisted it had no choice but to follow government guidance, which narrowly prescribed either a reusable cloth face-covering or a disposable surgical-type mask.
The Liberals blamed Canada Post, saying the agency misinterpreted government rules. The Crown corporation in turn said the Public Health Agency of Canada was at fault.
The postal union started provided respirators to staff, who started wearing whatever mask they felt like as supervisors sought clarity.
Now, Canada Post is issuing Level 2 medical masks, which resemble blue surgical masks but have thicker fabric.
The agency says regulations hold that respirators like N95s and KN95s can only be used when tested for fit by an expert.
“With over 50,000 employees in workplaces across the country, the requirement to safely use respirators with fit tests is not feasible in the short term,” spokesman Jon Hamilton wrote, adding it will allow N95s for tasks where two people are in close quarters.
Gallagher plans to follow a loophole where he can wear his respirator with the Level 2 mask on top.
He said that will be uncomfortable, but it’s better than using the flat masks that get wet because they’re constantly touching his lips.
“I’m happy that they are trying to make better adjustments,” Gallagher said of Canada Post.
“They’re kind of on-par with how the rest of the country is handling this; everybody seems to be very behind the ball, on everything.”
— Dylan Robertson