Maple Leaf Foods Continues Vigilance in Protecting People During COVID While Sustaining Essential Food Production
***Given the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be updating this information regularly. Last update: Thursday, June 26, 1:00 p.m.
As we have now passed the 100-day mark since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Maple Leaf Foods is approaching the next operating phase with the same level of caution and vigilance we adopted in responding to COVID-19. Although we moved quickly and aggressively in deploying safety measures against COVID-19, we will move slowly and cautiously in moving into a “new normal” state of operations, guided every step of the way by public health experts.
Every day, we seek ways to strengthen our protective measures even further. Our plants and people have transformed how they operate through social distancing, plexiglass separators on production lines where possible, marks on floors to control movement in certain directions and efforts to decrease density, like staggered shifts and additional break space. These changes can be seen in a video about our efforts.
To date, 72 team members across our network have tested positive for COVID-19, with eleven of our plants experiencing at least one confirmed positive case.
At each of the affected plants, we immediately implemented our COVID-19 response plans, which are aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Canadian Food Inspection Agency recommendations. The majority of our positive tests have occurred at our poultry plant in Brampton, Ontario and our Viau plant in Montreal, Quebec. At both locations we temporarily suspended operations for a few days in April while we completed our investigations, risk assessments and deep cleaning before reopening. Operations have continued at nine other plants where we have had at least one positive, including, our plants in Hamilton, Bradford, Toronto, Mississauga and Guelph in Ontario; Laval, Quebec; Edmonton, Alberta and our Lightlife plant in Turners Falls, Massachusetts.
The welfare of our people is of paramount importance to us. We are thankful that most are recovering well or have recovered. However, we were deeply saddened by the passing of a valued team member at our Viau North Montreal on 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, our prevention efforts continue, 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 also carefully monitor the effective implementation 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 committed to providing them weekly bonuses through April, which we extended through May. In late May, the company approved a further and final extension to the end of June as all of our safety protocols are now in place.
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 executing our business with excellence, protecting the health of our people, being vigilant in mitigating the risk of the spread of the virus and producing the food people need through these challenging times.