This is an updated story
Maple Leaf Foods has closed its Brampton poultry processing plant after a total of three staff members have now tested positive for COVID-19. Initially, the company had announced no closures after individual staff members had tested positive at two plants: the Brampton plant and the Heritage plant at Hamilton, Ont.
Today, Maple Leaf president and CEO Michael McCain issued a statement to update the company’s efforts to respond to COVID-19:
“As a major food company in an essential industry, Maple Leaf Foods is doing everything possible to protect the health of our 13,000 team members while producing the food our customers in North America and Asia need now more than ever.
Today, we are suspending operations in our Brampton Poultry plant in Brampton, Ontario, out of an abundance of caution while we complete an investigation into three COVID cases that have occurred with people working at that facility. Our first priority is to keep our people safe so the decision was made to shut down the facility, pending a full risk assessment. While we complete the investigation, we are deep cleaning the plant including common areas and offices. Our goal is to complete the investigation and the deep cleaning as quickly as reasonably possible. We will not begin operating again until we are confident that it is safe to return to work.
An additional COVID case has occurred in a team member at our Heritage plant in Hamilton, Ontario. The affected team member had not been present at the plant for two weeks before the diagnosis. We’ve completed thorough sanitation at Heritage and the plant is fully operating.”
An earlier statement had said that upon learning of the positive cases April 6th, the company 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.”
Maple Leaf says that its ongoing COVID-19 prevention efforts include additional sanitation in common welfare areas and social distancing, coupled with daily sanitation procedures.
The Brampton poultry plant is slated for closure in 2022, as Maple Leaf consolidates three Ontario plants into one London-based plant currently under construction.
In Quebec, an Olymel hog processing plant announced a 14-day closure beginning March 29th, following nine of 1,000 staff members testing positive for the virus, precipitating a huge backlog of market-ready hogs in Ontario and Quebec.