Professional cleaners to the rescue? Not yet - InfoNews

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Professional cleaners to the rescue? Not yet

Kendra McFarland, right, owns Vibrant Okanagan Concierge and Cleaning and has had to hire three new staff for a COVID-19 related contract. She is pictured with staff member Vanessa Grandan.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Kendra McFarland
March 18, 2020 - 7:30 AM

While the rest of the world is being put on hold due to COVID-19, cleaning companies have been putting on gloves and getting to work.

Kendra McFarland owns Vibrant Okanagan Concierge and Cleaning, and says she has had to hire three new staff to help with a new contract at a grocery store.

“We’re hoping to go into all of the grocery stores and provide those services. It’s needed. The people who see us are thanking us,” McFarland says. “It’s not just about what the public see, but it’s about keeping the staff areas clean so they’re not carriers. They’re exposed to so much, and they have to because the grocery store is an essential service.”

The three new staff circulate through Peter’s Independent Grocery in Kelowna, cleaning fridge handles, commonly touched areas, register areas and staff areas. McFarland is hoping to hire more people as she expects more businesses to come forward asking for the service.

Despite the increase in her workforce, she says there are negative effects, such as the Big White Resort closure. Her staff who live there will be heading home, and she will be short-staffed to continue with the remaining bookings.

Not all business owners in the cleaning industry think business will see a steady increase, however. For Shaun Foster, who owns Foster Janitorial and Okanagan Cleaning Services, says increased cleaning in commercial properties may be short-lived due to the uncertainty in the market.

“If the world’s economy is shutting down... usually it’s the cleaning companies and services that get cut first, so I was worried that business was going to suffer," Foster says.

Foster says his company spans from Kamloops into the southern Okanagan, cleaning businesses like wineries, golf courses, grocery stores and individual buildings. He hasn’t yet noticed a need to hire more staff, and is concerned that some companies may send workers home or be unable to afford the service.

“If their business starts to decline, their revenue will suffer. I think we're just at the beginning now…. it's only select bigger companies that have phoned us.”

Both McFarland and Foster believe that the essential services, such as grocery stores, need to invest in more rigorous cleaning procedures to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“We’re doing disinfecting on touch points like door handles, door knobs, light switches daily where typically, in the past, it was weekly,” says Ranjit Takhar, president of Evergreen Building Maintenance Inc.

Since his company has offices throughout B.C., including the Okanagan and Kamloops, and since they work in government buildings, airports and universities, he’s familiar with government cleaning standards and follows directions from health officials during the COVID-19 outbreak.

At this point he’s not yet worried about increasing his staff, saying there’s more people than there is work.

Corine Terai is the owner of Cleaning Angels Janitorial Service in Kelowna. She too is getting calls for extra days of cleaning but nothing she can’t handle with existing staff.

“We’ve already been in high alert since November when the flu season started,” she says.

Since her company cleans some Interior Health buildings, she already uses hospital grade cleaning agents.

“For us, nothing has changed,” Terai says. “We have always been doing more than customers demanded.”

— With files from Rob Munro.

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