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Update for CFIA employees on the use of additional equipment (Personal Protective Equipment and other public health measures)

Last updated: 2020-06-25, 16:00 (EDT)

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is committed to working towards the preservation and stability of the food supply while continuing to protect the health of our staff as they deliver critical services for Canadians.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Canada and around the world is being diverted and rationed for the use of front-line medical personnel, resulting in a world-wide shortage of medical masks, including surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators. The CFIA fully recognizes the need to support our front line health care workers and we continue to support the position of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) regarding medical masks. As an additional preventative measure for our front-line inspectors or officials, we are also exploring opportunities to acquire non-medical masks and face shields without diverting precious limited resources away from our health care providers.

Guidance is available from the PHAC and Health Canada's (HC) Public Service Occupational Health Program with respect to PPE and physical distancing.

The most important thing that we can do is follow the physical distancing requirements, to the extent possible, recognizing the specialized environment that many of us work in, and to follow hand washing and other hygiene protocols.

The CFIA continues to monitor the advice and guidance from the PHAC and will adjust our processes as necessary. And, the CFIA will also continue to monitor its workplaces as the COVID-19 situation evolves.


The CFIA's expectation is that the PHAC, HC and provincial and local public health authority recommendations will be followed by all regulated parties in accordance with the directions from the Federal and/or Provincial health authorities. It is also expected that the same health and safety measures implemented for establishment employees is similarly offered to CFIA employees working side-by-side with them in the same work environments. Communication between CFIA management and the regulated party is key. CFIA management and the facility management should clearly communicate the applicable recommendations and incidents of non-compliance should be noted and reported. Regulated parties need to understand that failure to comply may result in staff shortages, and possible stoppage of work, if the CFIA has concerns for the health and safety of its workers while at the facility. Should discussions between CFIA management and management of regulated parties not be successful in resolving the issue, consideration should be given to escalating the issue to the local public health authority for assistance.

Use of face shields or specific equipment

In some circumstances, provincial or local health authorities have made recommendations that establishment employees be provided with specific equipment (face shields, non-surgical masks or gloves) while working in certain work environments.

CFIA management will engage with establishments, as its employees should also wear the equipment provided by the Establishment.

It is the CFIA's position that third party operators also have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for all those who work on their premises. This would include both their staff and Agency employees. When third party operators have decided to provide their employees with additional equipment, the CFIA has taken the position that in order to meet its obligations as an employer and protect its employees, it is necessary for them to advise the CFIA and provide the equipment to CFIA employees as well, to protect their health and safety, while working in the same environment.

It is important to remember that any equipment used in the performance of your work must be cleaned and disinfected according to instructions after each use.

As this pandemic situation is an evolving one, the CFIA continues to assess new and emerging information and how this may impact the work environment of our employees.

Non-Medical Masks or Face Coverings

When all other measures are exhausted, impractical or not feasible, Non-Medical Masks (NMMs) or cloth face coverings are an additional measure that can be used to protect others around them. They are to be worn for short periods of time where physical distancing is not possible or is unpredictable.

NMM or face coverings:

Employees who wear NMMs or cloth face coverings, must consult the CFIA's Protocol (internal access only - RDIMS 13862788) for proper use, care and cleaning of such devices.

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