TROIS-RIVIÈRES, QUEBEC – Olymel LP announced on March 29 that it would close its hog slaughter and cutting plant for 14 days in Yamachiche, Quebec, to help stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The company said it had nine positive cases of COVID-19 among its plant employees.
This temporary closure will affect nearly 1,000 employees at the facility. Olymel said it will offer aid to its employees by utilizing the Canadian government’s current financial assistance programs. The company explained that the decision was made partly to protect the workers, and partly to limit community transmission.
“On behalf of Olymel management, I would like to express our gratitude to all the employees of the Yamachiche plant for their efforts since the beginning of this health crisis,” said Réjean Nadeau, president and chief executive officer at Olymel. “In collaboration with human resources, I would ask all of our other employees working in plants that are still in operation to exercise constant vigilance to avoid the spread of COVID-19.”
The public health departments in Quebec recommended that all employees who have worked at the plant since March 12 self-isolate as a precaution, monitor themselves for symptoms, and practice social distancing measures to protect their loved ones.
Olymel plans to resume operations with stronger measures in place.
“Closing this important part of the food supply chain, even temporarily, is a challenge,” the company said. “Olymel will follow up with its suppliers, particularly the hog farmers who supply the plant, and make the necessary decisions. This temporary closure will not affect the distribution of products to local markets.”
On March 26, Olymel and other Canadian processors agreed to increase pay and strengthen worker safety protocols at the companies’ Canadian operations in response to the pandemic.