MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO – Maple Leaf Foods, Inc. is suspending operations at its poultry plant in Brampton, Ontario, said Michael McCain, president and chief executive officer, on April 8. The company is investigating three coronavirus (COVID-19) cases of people working at the 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,” Mr. McCain said. “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.”

On April 7, Maple Leaf also reported one individual testing positive in Hamilton, Ontario.

Maple Leaf will continue to collaborate with public health agencies and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure a safe work environment for employees at operations across the country.

“This is a very fluid situation, and our teams are working very closely within our network as well as with our supply chain and logistics partners so that we can continue to deliver safe food at this critical time,” Mr. McCain said. 

Some of the steps in the response plan the company has taken to combat COVID-19 include:

  • Applying COVID-19 screening tools at all Maple Leaf Foods locations.
  • Requiring employees to work from home whenever possible. Where that is not possible, the company is taking additional precautions, including creating work spaces 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 leveraging technology to facilitate meetings and other interactions as much as possible.
  • Restricting visitors to Maple Leaf Foods 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 traveled internationally personally or live with anyone who has traveled internationally.
  • Ensuring that employees 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 adviser to assist with the development and implementation of the company’s response plans.