The Superintendent of Financial Institutions has shut the doors to its Ottawa offices and sent 360 employees home while one of them undergoes testing for the COVID-19 virus, as the federal government prepares to double down on cleaning its offices if needed.
Thursday morning, signs were plastered all over OSFI’s offices at 255 Albert St. with the message: “Effective immediately, OSFI employees are asked to work from home.”
The warning is signed by Michelle Doucet, assistant superintendent for corporate services at Canada’s top financial services regulator.
“An OSFI employee located in Ottawa is being tested for COVID-19. Please note that, at this time, it is not a presumptive or confirmed case,” a spokesperson for OFSI confirmed.
“OSFI has decided that in an abundance of caution to ask employees at the Ottawa offices to telework temporarily. Approximately 360 employees have been asked to work from home as a result. The Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal offices will remain open,” Michael Toope added via email.
In total, two floors rented by the OSFI are currently vacated, a spokesperson for Public Services and Procurement Canada confirmed to the National Post.
Other federal renters in that downtown Ottawa building are the House of Commons, Shared Services Canada as well as the Treasury Board Secretariat. As of Thursday morning, those offices remain occupied.
“OSFI takes seriously the need for operational resilience for itself and the institutions it oversees. During this period OSFI will continue to deliver on its mandate and work with institutions and regulatory partners to contribute to the stability of the Canadian financial system,” Toope said.
While PSPC hasn’t announced any other office closures, the department is prepared to upgrade its cleaning protocols if urged by Health Canada.
“We have not adjusted cleaning protocols as of now because public health officials have not recommended any changes. But we preparing to do so if need be,” said Cecely Roy, press secretary to the minister of public services and procurement, Anita Anand.
One of the many changes to cleaning protocols that PSPC is considering is more frequent cleanings of employee workspaces. Shared bathroom faucets, doorknobs, counters and sinks could also get additional scrubbing and disinfecting. The same applies to kitchen in office common areas.
If necessary, special attention will also be paid to disinfecting elevator control panels as well as installing additional hand sanitization stations.
In the meantime, PSPC has asked all the managers of the buildings it occupies to install signs around each office encouraging employees to wash their hands more often, cough or sneeze into their elbow, and consult certain government websites where they can find out more information about the COVID-19 virus.