Thank you for the opportunity to tell you what we did during the pandemic.
On March 12, Groupe Robert Inc. took its first steps. It addressed the situation by setting up a crisis management committee to ensure daily communication with all its employees. The committee implemented several measures, including the suspension of visits to its facilities, except for visits from critical suppliers. These suppliers had to fill out a self-identification form before being allowed in.
We stopped business travel and instead focused on the use of communication technologies such as Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Groupe Robert Inc. also funnelled all questions and suggestions from employees to a single address, email@example.com.
In addition, a series of hygiene measures were implemented in keeping with the recommendations made by public health authorities in Quebec and Canada. Employees enter through a single door, where there's a washing station and where their temperature is taken. Our drivers must follow a protocol for the use of disinfectants to clean their cabins. The housekeeping team has increased its cleaning rounds of all areas. The mechanical maintenance team must disinfect all required instruments before and after use. To encourage physical distancing in common areas, we've changed the break and meal times.
At the end of the school break, several employees who returned from trips needed to be quarantined. In addition, although the lockdown has eased, basic hygiene rules are part of daily life. These include physical distancing, hand washing and coughing into elbows.
We created a dedicated COVID-19 team. The team consists of three employees from the health and safety department. Its mandate is to research all relevant information on the pandemic. These three employees became the resource people to consult in order to avoid any wrongdoing or misinformation, including erroneous statements in certain press releases.
A number of employees are now teleworking. Our managers have received training on best practices for managing teleworking teams.
I must mention the establishment of various protocols for the steps required when an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19. We were fortunate, because only eight out of 3,600 employees contracted the coronavirus. I'm pleased to report that all eight employees have recovered.
The implementation of shorter hours and, above all, more timely support through online training has made it possible to reassign employees to other duties in order to limit layoffs. We also believe that the strong collaboration between the employer and the union should be noted. This collaboration led to the establishment of a forum that enabled the employer and the employees to work together to convey the same message.
At the height of the crisis, we temporarily laid off 459 people. In this period of crisis, Groupe Robert Inc. is pleased to see that its strength lies with its employees, who have tried to find solutions and accomplish great things.
We've been in business for 73 years. We've learned that the only way to overcome challenges such as this one is to work as a team.