The Canadian Federal Government has established the Emergency Processing Fund, an initiative focused on projects to help companies respond to the urgent health and safety needs of workers in agrifood sectors impacted by COVID-19, with an emphasis on supporting meat processing facilities.
Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s agriculture minister, was at Exceldor Cooperative in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, on September 4 to announce a number of initial projects funded under the CA$77.5 million (US$58.7 million) Emergency Processing Fund.
Nationally, a total of 32 projects have been approved so far, for up to CA$10.54 million in funding. Funding has helped businesses purchase reusable personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation stations and protective barriers, make adjustments to production lines to enable social distancing, develop additional training and adopt other measures that help safeguard employees from COVID-19. All remaining projects are currently being assessed and will be finalized in the coming weeks.
"Workers in the agri-food sector, in particular those working in meat processing, have faced many challenges throughout this pandemic and the Government has been there to support them. Ensuring the safety of these essential workers is key to continue providing safe, high quality food for all Canadians," Bibeau stated.
The Exceldor Cooperative plant Bibeau visited will receive up to CA$262,500 to purchase reusable PPE and install equipment to ensure social distancing of staff at the facility.
"The support announced by the federal government today was expected and is much appreciated. Despite the many challenges related to COVID-19 in recent months, we have been able to remain present in order to continue to feed Canadians. I would like to thank all of our employees who take their work to heart and who are still at their jobs despite the circumstances. We continue to be committed to providing a work environment that is adapted to the current pandemic conditions, and thus protecting the health of all our employees," said René Proulx, president and CEO, Exceldor Cooperative.
Exceldor Coopérative is a Quebec cooperative owned by 400 member farmers who are committed to raising quality poultry products. Exceldor Coopérative has more than 3,450 employees in Canada. According to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, Exceldor processes about 1.5 million chickens and turkeys per week.
The Government of Canada will continue working with food processors to ensure the well-being of essential workers in food processing plants across Canada while strengthening the resilience of the country’s food supply chain, according to a press release from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
In Quebec, a total of seven food processors have been approved so far for up to CA$1.8 million in funding to support their efforts in keeping their employees safe. In addition to Exceldor, those processors include Sunnymel Limited Partnership, Breton Tradition 1944, Oly-Robi Transformation Commandité, Saputo Dairy Products Canada, Serres Toundra Inc. and Montpak International.
View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.