Frontline essential workers, including those in the food processing sector, will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in the next round of immunizations, says Ontario’s premier Doug Ford.
In late December, Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) and the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association along with the Canadian Meat Council, Meat and Poultry Ontario, Food and Beverage Ontario, Ontario Pork, Ontario Sheep Farmers, Veal Farmers of Ontario, and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture called on the government to recognize that meat processing workers and inspectors must continue to be deemed as a critical essential service. The group also requested that workers in the meat production and processing sectors, including meat and animal inspectors, be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are extremely appreciative of the response and actions taken by the Government of Ontario and the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to prioritize front line essential workers and their access to vaccines in the fight against COVID-19,” says Rob Lipsett, BFO president. “We recognize first responders, healthcare workers, and those in long-term care must be prioritized in terms of first access to vaccines. However, we are thankful meat processing essential workers have been identified as a priority for phase two of the vaccination rollout.”
The agriculture sector was one of the first sectors to be impacted by the pandemic and has made significant investments to implement mitigation and control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the livestock and meat production supply chain workforce.
“Prioritizing workers in meat production and inspection to receive early immunization of the COVID-19 vaccine will help reduce and/or mitigate further disruptions in the meat supply chain, reduce implications for farmers, and protect the welfare of animals and security of our food supply,” shares Mike Conlin, president of the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association.