***Given the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be updating this information daily at approximately 6 p.m. Last update: Friday, April 24, 10 p.m.
Like companies around the globe, Maple Leaf Foods is experiencing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in ways we could not have imagined this time last year. The situation is extremely fluid and we are taking every step we can to protect our people as we continue our essential operations to deliver the food people need.
To date, seven of our plants have experienced at least one confirmed positive COVID-19 case among their teams. Our plants in Bradford, Ontario; Toronto, Ontario; and Guelph, Ontario, learned today that a Team Member at each plant had tested positive for COVID-19 – the first cases for each plant.
At each of the affected plants, we immediately implemented our COVID-19 response plans, making sure that all health, safety and sanitation measures were implemented, including deep cleaning procedures and notification of any coworkers who had close contact with these individuals. Our approach, and the practices we have adopted, follow the guidance issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). We also collaborate with Canadian Food Inspection Agency and public health authorities to ensure we are making the best decisions we can in each situation.
At two of our affected plants, our poultry plant in Brampton, Ontario and our Viau plant in Montreal, Quebec, we temporarily suspended operations while we completed our investigations and risk assessments. We resumed operations at both plants on April 16th, 2020, with further additional protective measures in place and following CDC guidance.
In addition to the precautionary measures we are taking to protect our people, we are continuously updating our contingency plans and business continuity efforts, as well as working with our supply chain and industry partners. As a government designated essential service, we are committed to continuing to do our part to produce the food people need.
The welfare of our people is of paramount importance to us. As of today’s date, across our network, 49 of our team member have tested positive for COVID-19. We are thankful that most are recovering well or have recovered. However, we deeply saddened by the passing of a valued team member at our Viau North Montreal Sunday, April 19. As we support our affected team members, we will also continue to be vigilant with our protective measures.
Protecting Our People
Throughout our Maple Leaf Foods network, we are executing comprehensive COVID-19 prevention efforts, including:
- Increasing social distancing where ever possible
- Temperature checks and daily health screenings upon arrival
- Mandatory face coverings for all of Team Members at all sites
- Increased sanitation in common welfare areas like cafeterias, locker rooms and breakrooms
- Staggered breaks and start times to reduce the potential for congestion
- Addition of trailers and tents to decrease density during breaks
Ongoing reminders to all team members NOT to come to work when feeling ill or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Our message: When you take care of yourself, you take care of all of us
We are also implementing monitoring protocols to validate the implementation and status of these protective measures.
These extra efforts augment our normal, thorough, daily sanitation procedures and widespread use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all our sites. We are absolutely committed to protecting the health and safety of our people and will continue to update our practices following the most current CDC guidelines.
Our front line team members who are coming to work to continue making food people need are truly heroes and we are providing them weekly bonuses. We have also set up a program to make support available for team members who are prevented from working due to COVID-19 related illness, symptoms or suspension of plant operations, which will be coordinated with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Caring for Our Communities
Maple Leaf Foods is also actively engaged in supporting our communities through this crisis. We have announced several important actions to support our communities through emergency food relief and financial support for front line health care workers.
We recognize that our food products are essential in nourishing people, and even more so in times like this.
We are committed to continuing to execute our business with excellence, protecting the health of our people, being vigilant in the steps we are taking to mitigate the risk of the spread of the virus and doing our part to produce the food people need through these challenging times.