Maple Leaf Foods is maintaining rigorous people safety efforts as COVID-19 continues to impact communities around the world. Although our safety efforts have been successful in keeping the rate of COVID-19 among our Team Members relatively low compared to what some businesses have experienced, we know that the greatest weapon against this virus is tireless and unwavering vigilance.
In the last week, our plants in Lethbridge, Alberta, and Brandon, Manitoba, experienced the first COVID-19 cases among their Team Members, reflecting a rise in community cases. Investigation into these cases indicates that all are linked to community spread, and not to workplace contact. All affected employees are recuperating at home.
The plant is continuing to operate at normal capacity as we maintain strict safety protocols to protect the health and safety of our people and mitigate the prospect of workplace spread.
As an additional step, and with the support from UFCW Local 832, we invited public health and workplace safety authorities, as well as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to complete a joint inspection of the plant again on the afternoon of August 6. The outcome of this inspection was a positive reinforcement of the rigorous steps Maple Leaf Foods is taking to provide a safe work environment and prevent workplace spread of COVID-19, including barriers, ventilation, distancing, screening, monitoring and enforcement protocols. As a result, Public Health and CFIA officials support our decision to continue operating.
Protecting Our People
Employee safety is paramount to us and we will continue to operate our plants as long as we believe we can provide safe working environments. Our decisions are guided by careful consultation with public health officials and our medical advisor.
Every day, we seek ways to strengthen our protective measures even further, following the Centers for Disease Control and CFIA recommendations. Our plants 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.
These extra efforts augment our normal, thorough, daily sanitation procedures and widespread use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all our sites.
We also provide 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.
To eliminate any barriers to staying home when sick, we established 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.
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.