Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The Amazon fulfillment centre in Brampton, Ont., on July 21, 2017.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is investigating the Amazon warehouse facility in Brampton, Ont., shut down last week by local public-health officials after hundreds of workers contracted COVID-19.

A spokesman for Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, said provincial inspectors had previously visited the facility in Peel Region and that an investigation is ongoing into whether workplace health and safety legislation had been violated.

“Violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act can result in imprisonment or fines of up to $1.5-million, and we will not hesitate to hold employers accountable if they fail to keep their employees safe,” spokesman Harry Godfrey wrote in an e-mail.

Story continues below advertisement

The Labour Ministry said provincial inspectors had visited the site 12 times between March 1 of last year and March 10, 2021, and that the province has issued eight orders related to COVID-19 protocols. It has also received one formal notice of “occupational illness” from the Brampton facility, meaning one or more documented cases of virus transmission in the workplace.

Coronavirus tracker: How many COVID-19 cases are there in Canada and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

The Ontario government has carried out several inspection blitzes of large workplaces in recent months, targeting pandemic hotspots such as Brampton. Mr. Godfrey said ministry staff carried out 200 inspections in February as part of a two-week campaign focused on Peel Region, handing out 26 tickets for violations.

Amazon Canada spokesman Dave Bauer said the company was co-operating with the Ministry of Labour.

“They were pleased with the comprehensive efforts we’ve made to protect the well-being of our employees. They offered advice for smaller-scale areas of improvement, which we immediately implemented,” Mr. Bauer wrote in a e-mail.

On Friday, Peel Public Health ordered Amazon Canada to cancel all shifts at its massive facility in Brampton near Steeles Avenue West and Heritage Road, a “fulfillment centre” that employs 5,000 people. Since October, 617 workers at the facility have contracted the virus, including 240 in the past few weeks, according to Peel’s Medical Officer of Health, Lawrence Loh. The order, which could be extended, means all workers at the site must self-isolate for 14 days.

While the Brampton site has been in outbreak since October, earlier clusters were considered contained. While Peel Public Health said Amazon had been complying with other health orders, a recent spike in cases, including 10 testing positive for more contagious new variants of the virus, prompted the shutdown order.

Although Peel Public Health has completed thousands of workplace COVID-19 outbreak investigations, this is the first time the agency has ordered a workplace to close because of an outbreak, Dr. Loh said in a statement. In other cases, businesses in the region have closed voluntarily at the agency’s request.

Story continues below advertisement

Peel Public Health spokesman Jeff LeMoine said Sunday that Peel Public Health had provided its data to Amazon and recommended that they close voluntarily.

“Unfortunately, they did not provide a commitment to do so within a limited timeframe we provided for their review,” Mr. LeMoine said, prompting the public-health unit to issue an order to “address the immediate health concern.”

Mr. Bauer said on Friday that the company would abide by the order, but would also appeal the shutdown. He said the company’s recent round of mandatory testing showed a positivity rate of less than 1 per cent.

Amazon would have to file any appeal to the provincial Health Services Appeal and Review Board, Dr. Loh said. Peel Public Health said it was not aware of any appeal having been filed.

The shutdown was long overdue, said Gagandeep Kaur, an organizer at the Warehouse Workers Centre, which advocates for Amazon employees in the Greater Toronto Area. She said employees at the facility were “wondering why it took so long.”

Ms. Kaur said she believes Amazon will be paying the wages of all employees at the shuttered facility until it reopens, including temporary workers. But workers at the warehouse still fear the conditions they will face when they return to work, she added.

Story continues below advertisement

Some worry they will be required to work longer hours and at a faster pace to make up for lost time, she said. And some also believe the crowded conditions that helped lead to such a massive outbreak will remain unchanged after the two-week shutdown.

“Unless something changes structurally, workers are doubtful that things will get better.”

With a report from Tavia Grant

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies