Bed bugs in government offices
As you are certainly aware given the extensive media coverage over the past few days, at time of writing bed bugs have been found in at least 8 government buildings located in the National Capital Region. They have also been reported in federal government buildings in Montreal and Winnipeg. There may be other affected locations across Canada that have yet to be formally identified.
I want to assure you that we are taking this situation very seriously, and are working with the Employer to address this health hazard as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has taken a number of steps so far, including bringing in pest management experts, conducting canine inspections, installing traps, vacuuming and steaming carpets, applying a treatment spray, and post-treatment monitoring. Despite these efforts, multiple treatments may be needed before the bugs are eradicated once and for all in affected facilities.
PSPC is also taking proactive measures, such as random testing and educating cleaning staff and employees on what to look for to support early detection and reporting. Real property representatives from across the government are also working to develop the best response possible to the problem.
On the union side, on October 31st, senior PIPSC representatives, along with those of other bargaining agents, met with PSPC deputy minister Matthews to review the situation. We will hold ongoing meetings with PSPC until the problem is resolved, and will write to the Minister if the situation persists in the days ahead. The unions have also asked for accommodation for members who are germaphobes.
Overall, we support the position taken by our colleagues at the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC):
- “Proactively inspect all federal government buildings across Canada with sniffer dogs to check for bed bugs.
- Fumigate the entire building if bed bugs are found, not just one floor or section.
- Cover all fumigation expenses for federal employees who find bed bugs in their homes if they work in a building where bed bugs were found.
- Provide accommodations for employees to work from home or telework where possible if bed bugs have previously been found in their workplace.
- Employees should not be obligated to return to their workplace after fumigation until a follow-up inspection has been conducted with their union and joint health and safety committee.
- All employees should be provided with training on how to identify and report signs of bed bugs in their workplace.
- Create a registry of federal buildings contaminated by bed bugs or other vermin.
- Employee unions and joint health and safety committees should be immediately advised of all incidents of bed bugs found in federal workplaces”.
If employees suspect that there are bedbugs in their workplace, they should notify their Manager and contact the National Service Call Centre at 1-800-463-1850 so an investigation and treatment can take place.
You can also contact your Employment Relations Officer if you need any assistance on this issue. You can find them listed at https://www.pipsc.ca/about/contact-us/staff.