Mould report puts two staff on leave

Two staffers at the Children’s Receiving Home have taken leave after a government investigation found four types of mould in the…

Two staffers at the Children’s Receiving Home have taken leave after a government investigation found four types of mould in the building’s walls.

The home, run by Yukon Health and Social Services, employs 12 full-time staff members and many on-call workers.

It can accommodate 15 in-care children between the ages of 10 and 18.

A work crew discovered the mould while prepping the walls for a fresh coat of paint in late April, according to a Property Management report given to the News last week.

 “No staff came forward with health concerns before the mould was discovered,” said Jody Morey, Children’s Receiving Home acting supervisor.

But after a report confirming there were four types of mould in the building, which came in on May 8, a few concerned employees came to Morey wondering how the substance might affect their health.

“I don’t know much about mould myself, so I’ve been telling staff that if they have concerns to go to their doctor,” he said.

After seeing their doctors, two staff members requested to take leave from the home — one full-time staffer and one part-time staffer.

The part-timer was shuffled to another home while awaiting the test results.

“At this point we’re just waiting to see what we need to do with the house and we’ll go from there,” said Nancy Duesener, manager of children’s assessment and treatment services.

“We do have four other programs that people can work in — they don’t necessarily have to be in the environment if they do have allergies and they are being affected.”

Morey has worked at the receiving home since 2002.

“I don’t feel that I’ve been affected by exposure to mould,” he said.

The home, located at 5080 Fifth Avenue in downtown Whitehorse, is approximately 30 years old.

It has a small ventilation system that only affects a few areas of the home.

“The receiving home is an old building and I think one of the recommendations will be around improving ventilation,” said Morey.

Last month, some suggested the mould in the home was discovered more than one year ago and the Yukon government was dragging its feet to fix the problem.

“It is my understanding that the problem actually began last summer and that mould tests were done at that time,” Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell said in the legislature on May 2.

“Over the winter, the problem became worse after some pipes broke and caused extensive water damage,” said Mitchell.

That’s not true, said Duesener.

No mould was discovered in April by the painting crew.

The building underwent an air-quality test in 2005, but nothing out of the ordinary was found, she said.

“I think everyone was quite concerned about the issue; as soon as we found the mould we wanted to have Occupational Health and Safety come in,” said Duesener.

Mould contamination affects the air quality inside a building and spores can be inhaled.

“Mould growth of any species within residential buildings may be hazardous to human health,” according to Health Canada.

Meanwhile, Health and Social Services expects the results of the expert report from Vancouver-based firm Theodor Sterling and Associates within the next two weeks.