President of the Canadian Meat Council (CMC) Chris White welcomed the funding: “Today’s funding announcement will help our meat processors continue to improve their facilities. Our members have already invested heavily in ensuring that they can provide safe working conditions for their employees while continuing their operations. These are unprecedented times and we are adjusting day-by-day, as we all learn how to best protect our employees and inspectors based on new information and this funding reflects this need.”
This follows extensive measures to stem the spread of the disease at plants across the country,
White said that Canadian meat processors have worked diligently with provincial health and labour officials responsible for regulatory oversight, as well as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to deal with coronavirus with shared goals in mind.
These include to protect the health and safety of workers and food supply. The CMC said decisions on how to reduce risk are science-based and evolve with each passing day as knowledge and experience from around the world is applied and that each facility is operated following the advice of local and provincial health officers, who determine when to open or cease operations.
Measures include symptoms monitoring such as taking temperatures of employees before the start of work each day, additional cleaning and disinfection for high touch surfaces by dedicated personnel, monitoring of appropriate hand-washing with soap and water by quality assurance personnel, and the requirement for employees to self-monitor during work time and not to come to work if observable symptoms are present. Social distancing is being addressed through adding space to lines wherever possible or providing additional solid barriers or personal protective equipment for workers and inspectors and adding more areas for lunch breaks.
“We would like to express our appreciation to the Minister of Agriculture and President of CFIA. These are uncharted waters and their availability, transparency and willingness to work with our sector has been greatly appreciated,” added White. “Feeding Canadians, keeping the supply chain going and ensuring employees are safe is at the heart of what we do. One can’t happen without the other.”