Maple Leaf Foods learned that four employees – one at its plant in Hamilton, Ontario, and three at its Brampton, Ontario, poultry plant -- tested positive for COVID-19.
After consulting with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the company has temporarily suspended operations at the Brampton plant, effective April 8, to allow a thorough investigation and a deep cleaning of the plant to be conducted. The company said it hopes to complete the investigation and cleaning as quickly as possible, so operations can be resumed.
Meanwhile, the plant in Hamilton remains in operation. Maple Leaf Foods continues to work collaboratively with public health authorities and the CFIA to ensure the company continues to provide a safe work environment that allows it to deliver on its commitment to maintaining food supply at this critical time.
At the two plants, the company immediately implemented its COVID-19 response plans, making sure that all health, safety and sanitation measures were implemented, including notifying any coworkers who had close contact with these individuals so that they can self-quarantine for 14 days.
The patients are presently at home, and the company keeping in touch with them, Maple Leaf Foods said in a press release.
Maple Leaf Foods said it is taking a number of precautionary measures in its business and operating practices.
When concerns started to escalate about the potential spread of COVID-19 in North America, Maple Leaf Foods acted quickly to develop a pandemic response plan, along with associated business continuity and contingency plans. The company acted early at our sites to implement additional precautionary measures. Some of the steps taken include:
- Applying COVID-19 screening tools at all locations.
- Requiring employees to working from home whenever possible and where that is not possible, Maple Leaf Foods is taking additional precautions, including creating workspaces that maximize social distance.
- Increasing sanitation in cafeterias, break rooms, locker rooms and washrooms. Break times are staggered to reduce the number of people in common areas.
- Repurposing some plant offices and bringing in trailers to create additional break room space, reduce density and increase social distancing between people.
- Eliminating in-person meetings unless absolutely required and are leveraging technology to facilitate meetings and other interactions as much as possible.
- Restricting visitors to offices and sites and foregoing any in-person visits to customers, suppliers, producers or other business partners.
- Prohibiting business travel.
- Imposing return to work restrictions for team members who have travelled internationally personally or live with anyone who has travelled internationally.
- Making sure that team members who are required to self-quarantine continue to get paid in line with the company’s short-term disability plans.
- Bringing in a medical expert advisor to assist with the development and implementation of response plans.
“Our ongoing COVID-19 prevention efforts, including additional sanitation in common welfare areas and careful social distancing, coupled with our thorough, daily sanitation procedures will help us ensure that our people are as healthy and safe as possible. As events continue to unfold, we will follow the advice of leading world health and disease control organizations. We will continue to monitor developments and will further adapt our policies and practices as new information becomes available,” the company stated.
“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.”
View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.