Bats and bed bugs at federal government building
The union representing the majority of Federal Employees is campaigning today to have what it calls urgent health and safety concerns addressed relating to possible bats, mice and bed bugs inside a Federal Government building.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) released a video of a bat it says was filmed inside Terrasses de la Chaudiere (TDLC) on Eddy St. in Gatineau.
In a press release, PSAC says department management in the complex was notified of the concerns in the summer. In August, PSAC says its members met with officials from Public Services and Procurement Canada, the department responsible for the government's internal servicing and administration.
Following that meeting, PSAC says some steps were taken but members are still asking for the creation of a joint committee between union members and government officials to monitor the situation going forward.
“We need them to take the health and safety of our members at TDLC seriously, and set up a forum where we stop working in (bat-infested) silos and can finally start working together to get things done,” said Andrew Shaver, Union of National Employees (UNE) National Executive Vice President.
Along with the video of a bat, PSAC also provided photos of other deceased bats near the building. PSAC says employees have also provided images of droppings inside the building - Shaver did not know if they were from a bat or a mouse.
He said most recently employees were raising concerns about bed bugs at Terrasses de la Chaudiere. Shaver said those claims were being investigated. Bed bugs were previously confirmed at a federal government building across the road on Eddy St. just last week.
Shaver says employees at this building have also raised concerns about poor air quality at Terrassses de la Chaudiere.
One woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, shared medical documents that indicated she was on medical leave until she could receive more testing. She believes she is dealing with respiratory issues because of poor air quality and lack of ventilation or air circulation in the office.
"For me, it started off as a cold and on top of another cold and antibiotics, even finishing the antibiotics, it came back... and I had to go into the hospital," she said.
The woman says on September 26th, she suffered a respiratory attack and was ordered by her doctor to stay home from work. She is now on antibiotics and using a puffer as well.
There is no evidence that her illness is related to that building but the woman says her issues are triggered while at work.
Jean-Francois Nicole, who says he previously worked with the health and safety board at Terrasses de la Chaudiere, says several employees have raised similar concerns about poor air quality.
Nicole says steps have been taken to address concerns. This includes renovations made to the building, testing done inside for air quality and some employees have been relocating.
"I feel safe but others, they don't feel that way so it's important to get to the bottom of what their issue is," Nicole said.
— Megan Shaw (@meganshawCTV) October 29, 2019
CTV News reached out to the department of Public Service and Procurement Canada (PSPC) for comment Tuesday.
Wednesday, PSPC responded saying it takes the health and safety of its building occupants as a top priority.
"With regards to Les Terrasses de la Chaudière (LTDLC), unions and stakeholders were engaged on several occasions this year. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSCP) has, and continues to perform follow up investigations with experts in response to various concerns raised by the health and safety committees. Also, in collaboration with representatives of the occupying client departments, an interdepartmental Occupational Health and Safety committee will be established shortly to discuss specific issues affecting the tenants of LTDLC. When issues are identified, PSPC takes immediate action to investigate and address tenants concerns," the statement by PSPC continued.
PSPC also stated that bat issues were related to cracks in the exterior of the building which would be resolved when renovations were done. Construction for TDLC is planned for fall 2019.
In response to air quality concerns, PSPC says tests were done that did not reveal any air quality concerns.
"That said, PSPC remains fully committed to employee concerns related to their workplace.Public Services and Procurement Canada and its property manager remain committed to quickly resolving any newly identified issue," the statement ended.