Ottawa-area building housing Indigenous affairs departments treated for bedbugs

Some employees at Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations may have to get their homes inspected for bedbugs after the presence of the insects was detected in the departments’ building in Gatineau, Que., according to an internal notice obtained by CBC News. 

A notice was emailed to employees Friday by “HQ Accommodations” announcing that the presence of bedbugs had been detected on floors 21, 22, 23 and 24 of the Les Terrasses de la Chaudière complex.

The notice said the presence of the insects was discovered by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). 

“We are working with PSPC to immediately treat these four floors,” said the notice.

The notice said the eradication process could lead to home inspections for Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) employees. 

Bedbugs aren’t known to carry infectious diseases, according to Health Canada, but their bites can itch and contribute to anxiety and trouble sleeping. They can travel around on furniture, clothing and in books.

Bedbugs have been detected on four floors at the federal building housing the two Indigenous affairs departments in Gatineau, Que. (Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)

ISC and CIRNAC referred media queries to PSPC. PSPC did not provide a statement by time of publishing.

The notice said that bedbug eradication  — through chemical and steam treatment — of the four floors would occur after work hours beginning on Friday. Bed bug traps would also be set on the floors after five days, followed by weekly inspections of those traps.

The notice suggested that employees speak with their managers to work from home on Monday.

A second round of steam and chemical treatment is planned in three weeks which would then be followed by another round of trap inspection every week for three weeks, said the notice. After five months, there would be another assessment to determine whether bedbug-sniffing dogs would need to be brought in to sweep the four floors.

The notice said that a plan was in the works to have all the floors housing ISC and CIRNAC offices in the building complex undergo testing and steam treatment. 

“We understand that the presence of pests at work or at home can be an extremely sensitive subject for employees, and that it can have a significant impact on mental well-being, productivity and workplace morale,” said the notice. 

“We would like to assure you that we are taking this issue very seriously, and are working to ensure all Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) employees, no matter where they are located, are provided with a safe and healthy workplace.”

Bedbugs were reported in at least 11 other federal buildings throughout the Ottawa-Gatineau region in 2019. Bedbug-sniffing dogs were brought into federal offices last fall at the Centennial Towers and Jean Talon Building in Ottawa following sightings of the insects.

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