These are extraordinary times. With the global spread of COVID-19 reaching pandemic levels, it is critical that we all do what we can to help reduce the spread and bring this virus under control.
At Maple Leaf Foods, we take our obligation to do our part very seriously. The health and well-being of our people, customers, consumers, business partners and communities is of paramount importance to us. With this in mind, we are taking a number of precautionary measures in our business and operating practices.
As a leading North American producer of meat, poultry and plant proteins, we already have strict safety policies and procedures in place. Our strong biosecurity programs that we follow for food safety also work as protection against this virus. We will continue to maintain these high standards. We are also leveraging our biosecurity and food safety knowledge as we develop and implement measures to enhance our business practices in non-operational environments.
We have had a visitor screening tool and self-quarantine measures in place since concerns about the spread of the virus started to escalate. As events have continued to unfold, we have adopted the following additional measures:
- Employees are working from home whenever possible and where that is not possible, we are taking additional precautions, including creating work spaces that maximize social distance when we can.
- In our plants, we are increasing sanitation in cafeterias, break rooms, locker rooms and washrooms. We are staggering break times to reduce the number of people in common areas.
- We are also repurposing some plant offices and bringing in trailers to create additional break room space, reduce density and increase social distancing between people.
- We have eliminated in-person meetings unless absolutely required and are leveraging technology to facilitate meetings and other interactions as much as possible.
- We are restricting visitors to our offices and sites and foregoing any in-person visits to our customers, suppliers, producers or other business partners.
- We are prohibiting business travel.
- If Team members or members of the household are travelling internationally personally, they are asked to report the travel to their supervisor or Human Resources so that our quarantine policies can be properly applied. We are asking these Team members to stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days from the date when they return from their travels. They will also need to complete our COVID-19 screening tool before returning to any of our worksites.
Of course, anyone experiencing any symptoms is required to stay home and for any employees concerned about losing pay because they are required to stay home or self-quarantine, we are making sure they continue to get paid in line with our short-term disability plans.
Our front-line team members in plants and sites are the true heroes, as they report every day to continue making food people need. To show our appreciation and to help with any additional expenses our team members incur as a result of the pandemic, we are providing weekly bonuses.
We will continue to monitor developments and will further adapt our policies and practices as new information becomes available. To keep our employees informed, we have created an online resource centre on our intranet where they can access important information about COVID-19, our company status and key policies. We are also publishing a regular Employee Bulletin with the most recent updates and links to additional resources. Our Health Practitioners’ Team comprised of nursing staff and safety professionals is managing an internal ‘Ask Me Anything’ page where employees can have their questions answered.
We are also sharing information with our stakeholders as we work together to do the right things.
At the present time, all plants are operating and our company is only minimally impacted. We continue to ship and export normally and we have not experienced any significant issues with our ability to procure necessary supplies. We will continue to work very closely with our supply chain partners and given that the situation is extremely fluid, we will continue to engage in thorough contingency planning.
- We also announced several important actions to support our communities. In partnership with the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security (the “Centre”), Maple Leaf Foods will be supporting the critical efforts of food security organizations to meet vastly increased demands. In addition to $500,000 in financial and food contributions recently committed, Maple Leaf Foods and the Centre will be launching a matching campaign to raise an additional $2.0 million to support emergency food relief efforts across Canada.
- Maple Leaf Foods will also donate $2.5 million to the CANADIAN FRONTLINE HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS PROTECTION FUND (CFHPPF), a fund being established by hospital foundations across the country to provide additional 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, maintaining operational stability and the health of our people and being vigilant in the steps we are taking to mitigate the risk of the spread of the virus in the communities where we operate.
***Given the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be updating this information as new developments occur. Last update: Thursday, March 26, 2020, 12:00 p.m.