Bed bugs empty federal building for the week

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Anxiety is still riding high for federal employees at a government building in Gatineau, shut down because of bed bugs. Employees at the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) building at 70 Crémazie will remain off work for the week while a pest control company tries to eradicate the bugs. Employees’ homes may be treated as well, if it’s deemed necessary.

The parking lot at the IRCC building was virtually empty, as was the multi-floor building, except for the odd employee going in to retrieve some belongings from their desks.  Employees working on non-sensitive information have been told to work from home; other employees working shifts with access to personal information have been moved to a building on Portage in Hull.

“It’s been going on for a couple years,” said one caller to CTV Ottawa, who has been transferred temporarily to the Portage building, “There were isolated bugs in isolated areas.”

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) said in an email that “despite implementing a pest management action plan and moving forward with treatments in specific areas of the building, attempts to address the situation have proven unsuccessful.”

The decision was taken late Tuesday afternoon to close the building for the week to proceed “with a treatment of the entire building as well as PSPC employees’ homes, as necessary,” Stéfanie Hamel, a media relations officer with PSPC said in an email.

“Public Services and Procurement Canada takes the health and safety of its occupants and visitors seriously,” the email continued.

Employees at other federal government buildings were being told to “make room for affected staff to use boardrooms and offices” in their buildings.  In emails to CTV, they expressed frustration that no answers were being given with respect to the potential for bed bugs in their buildings, but they added that affected staff being moved into their buildings were being asked to check their belongings before they entered.

PSPC says employees have been sent home until the situation has been resolved.  The department is communicating with employees to help them determine if they have transferred the bed bugs hom and where necessary, will make arrangements to perform "assessments and proceed with treatments if required."

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