After closing for 14 days due to a COVID-19 outbreak among employees, Olymel is resuming operations at its pork processing plant in Red Deer, Alberta starting on Thursday, March 4.
With support from Alberta Health Services, the company says slaughter operations will resume on Thursday, with cutting room operations beginning on Friday.
The company says it’s been in contact with hog producers regarding its plan for gradual resumption of deliveries. Some of Olymel’s own animals were redirected to the U.S. for processing, to try to reduce the backlog created by the closure.
Three employees from the Red Deer plant have passed away after testing positive for COVID-19. The company says it has confirmed most of the employees who tested positive have recovered.
Olymel says it has worked with Alberta Health Services to “update and reinforce the many health and safety measures that were already in place at the plant,” including training sessions with employees on health measures, additional staff for monitoring and enforcing protocols, and rapid testing on-site.
The plant employs around 1,850 people.
Alberta Pork, meanwhile, said it’s in discussions with the Alberta government about offering an AgriRecovery program, similar to the set-aside program created for the cattle sector following processing plant closures last spring. To help quantify the impact and facilitate this request, Alberta Pork is asking producers to voluntarily submit settlement statements and transportation bills to its office.