Canada Recognizes Laundry Services as ‘Essential’ in Battle with COVID-19

Posted April 3, 2020 at 1:58 pm

Canada’s National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure, a publication by the Canadian Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for use in times of emergency or crisis, has listed laundry services under its critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure is defined as the processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets, and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government. Provincial governments also recognizing laundry services as essential services (“critical to preserving life, health and basic societal functioning”) include Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. (The provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have not yet released a list.)

Suppliers to laundry services, such as equipment, textiles, chemicals and other products and services are also considered essential as suppliers to critical infrastructure businesses. TRSA is also communicating with the Mexican government to expand its designation beyond “healthcare laundries” which have already been deemed essential.

The industry supplies, launders and maintains essential, environmentally friendly reusable textiles. During stay-at-home and shelter-in-place and other executive orders that limit normal business operations and movement, the “critical/essential services” designation allows laundries to stay open to serve other businesses designated as “essential” including those mentioned above plus grocery stores, food processing, home-based and long-term care, public utilities (water and energy), first responders, laboratories, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other fundamental supply chain businesses.

“Members of TRSA, the association that represents the $40-billion North American linen, uniform and facility services industry, are on the front line, providing clean, safe environments for their customers’ employees, customers and the general public,” said TRSA President and CEO Joseph Ricci.

“Despite this designation and the critical role of the textile services sector,” Ricci said. “We are seeing very different results from the impact of COVID-19. Companies serving healthcare facilities are operating below their normal pace due to deferred nonemergency care, but they’re braced for a spike in demand as COVID-19 cases increase. Meanwhile, those laundries serving restaurants and hotels are laying off workers. We anticipate sales to decline by $10 billion during the next three months, prompting the loss of between 80,000 to 100,000 jobs. Without aggressive and immediate action from the federal government, many laundries will close their doors, permanently eliminating providers of these essential services and leaving the country ill-prepared to rebound.”

“Because our industry serves virtually every type of private- and public-sector organization across the economy, most consumers benefit at least once per week from the hygiene and safety of products we provide to our customers. This highlights the imperative that laundries be considered essential to a sound public health policy,” Ricci said.