Maple Leaf Foods is maintaining rigorous people safety efforts as COVID-19 continues to impact communities around the world.
Update on our Operations at Brandon
Currently we are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases in the Brandon, Manitoba region, where one of our pork processing plants is located. As a result of this increase in community spread, we are seeing an associated increase in positive tests among our Brandon Team Members. We keep in close contact with our affected Team Members, all of whom are recuperating at home.
Our investigations into these positive tests, together with the independent reviews by public health officials and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), indicate that there is no evidence of workplace transmission at the plant. The outcome of a joint inspection by public health, workplace safety and CFIA officials late last week positively reinforced the decision to continue to operate the plant and the rigorous steps Maple Leaf Foods is taking to provide a safe work environment and prevent workplace spread of COVID-19, including temperature and health screening, face coverings, barriers between workspaces where possible, social distancing, monitoring and enforcement protocols.
As a result, the plant is continuing to operate safely. Over the coming days, we anticipate that there will be fluctuations in absenteeism and will be managing operations and adjusting production rates as necessary while continuing to produce essential food for the communities we serve.
While we are confident that the protocols at our plant provide a safe working environment, we are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in the community, including the potential impacts on our Team Members. We value our role in the Brandon community and are committed to doing our part in cooperation with federal, provincial, and local governments and UFCW Local 832 to fight the spread of this virus.
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.