MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO – Vaccination will be the price of admission to facilities owned and operated by Mississauga, Ontario-based Maple Leaf Foods. After March 31, 2022, the company will require proof of vaccination from anyone seeking entry to the company’s processing plants, hog barns the company owns, affiliate companies and offices. The mandate affects employees, contractors, suppliers and visitors.

“Since the pandemic began, Maple Leaf Foods has been committed to providing workplaces that are as safe as we can make them,” the company said. “We deployed our pandemic plan early, conducting daily health and temperature screening, requiring masks and social distancing, installing plexiglass separators between workstations where possible, and adding trailers at some locations to decrease density in employee welfare areas. Public health experts said we went “above and beyond” with our safety programs. That makes us deeply proud.

“As vaccines became available, we encouraged all our Team Members to get vaccinated,” the company added. “We tried to make it as easy as possible for everyone, even hosting vaccine clinics at many of our sites. It was clear to us then, just as it is now, that people who are fully vaccinated protect themselves, their colleagues, their families, and their communities.”

Maple Leaf Foods joins a list of employers – from American Express to Walmart – that have vaccine mandates for employees. Tyson Foods Inc. announced in August that it would require all its 120,000 US-based workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1. By October the company said that 96% of its workforce had been vaccinated.

Maple Leaf “team members” who are not fully vaccinated by the deadline will be placed on unpaid leave. The company plans to negotiate exemptions and “appropriate accommodations” for team members who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

“This is a very important decision for our leadership team,” the company said. “In our mind, if we can save just one life through this decision it’s worth it.”