SAINT-HYACINTHE, QUEBEC — Olymel LP, a Canadian poultry and pork processor and distributor, announced on April 19 that it plans to close its Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu plant, which focused on poultry production and a few pork products.

The company said 135 people would be affected by the decision, including 23 non-regulated employees and 30 employees with temporary foreign worker status. Olymel explained that the definitive plant closure is set for July 19.

The main reason for the closure was that the plant was operating at 40% capacity, according to Olymel. Reorganizing the production inside Olymel’s operations will help move production to nearby plants with capacity that can handle these volumes.

“The decision to close the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu plant is part of a major shift in production volumes and a situation of significant overcapacity at the plant,” said Yanick Gervais, president and chief executive officer for Olymel. “Other Olymel facilities located nearby, where we have residual capacity, will be able to handle these volumes with a view to achieving savings and efficiency gains.”

Employees of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu are expected to be part of a relocation plan where people can move to other operations in Olymel including Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Unidindon), Saint-Damase, Ange-Gardien or Boucherville distribution center. 

“This is a difficult decision for the employees affected, and one we regret having to make,” Gervais said. “We are aware of the value and expertise of our employees at the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu plant, and we are determined to keep as many of them as possible within the Olymel family. That’s why we’re going to put in place a solid relocation plan that will enable those who wish to do so to pursue their careers within our organization.”

For the relocation cases, years of seniority will be recognized for compensation and benefits after the approval of unions at the other plants. Olymel also stated that it would take steps with federal and provincial authorities to help temporary foreign workers relocate to another company facility.