As Canada faces the third wave of the pandemic, and new daily cases of COVID continue to surge, our workplaces remain significantly impacted with employee reported cases rising in step with community rates of infection.
Our Emergency Response Team continues to work tirelessly to conduct thorough risk assessments and contact tracing in collaboration with Public Health, and in accordance with our COVID-19 response plan, whenever we are notified of a positive employee case. We continue to communicate every case requiring contact tracing in our workplaces to employees, to keep them well-informed. Since the start of the pandemic, across our Ontario operations (6 facilities with approximately 2600 people in total) we have been notified of a total of 149 positive employee cases requiring contact tracing in our workplaces.
Despite implementing a stringent infection control program in our workplace, essential workers carry a disproportionate burden of risk. In order to keep our society afloat, they must go to work every day to perform their duties, producing products and services essential to the health, nourishment, safety, security and economic well-being of Ontarions. Despite lockdowns or stay-at-home orders, they put their health, and indeed lives, at risk to ensure that the rest of society may continue to function. Showing gratitude to these workers is not enough. They need vaccines to ensure their safety while they do this essential work.
We have impressed upon our Provincial Government and local public health agencies that it is crucial that the Phase 2 roll-out plan be revised to prioritize the immediate vaccination of our essential workers. The ground has shifted since the roll-out plan was first established, with more transmissible and lethal variants now dominating and driving a third wave.
Maple Lodge Farms has submitted a proposal to the Province to conduct an onsite worker vaccination program. In order to improve participation rates and expedite the vaccination of essential workers, we must bring vaccinations to where essential workers are – their workplaces. Community and mobile sites are not the answer on their own, if we are to rapidly reduce the virus spread. Employer on-site vaccinations must be a key component of a multi-channel strategy required to effectively mitigate the third wave. We are pressing forward with our proposal in hope that our provincial and regional governments will recognize the benefits of onsite vaccination programs and expedite this initiative at various workplaces across Ontario.
In the interim, as the threat of the virus persists, we continue to impress upon our employees the importance of carefully practicing all of the preventive measures put in place in our workplace, and following the advice of Public Health outside of work, in order to keep themselves safe.
Some of the preventive measures we have put in place in the workplace include the following:
- We have suspended all visitors to our facility outside of those deemed essential to the operation of our business for example, contractors and delivery drivers
- We maintain a strict screening policy, ensuring only healthy people enter our workplace
- We require all employees and essential visitors to wear masks at all times in all areas of our facilities
- We have added temporary lunchroom spaces and equipped all common spaces with multiple, portable hand-washing and sanitization stations
- We have imposed physical distancing measures in our common spaces including the installation of Plexiglas shields in between adjacent seating areas in our cafeteria
- We have equipped all of our production employees with personal protective equipment over and above that which may be required in the course of their usual duties, including masks, face shields, aprons, and gloves
- We have staggered our production shifts for better physical distancing
- We have implemented precautionary and frequent deep cleaning initiatives and added ongoing cleaning rotations for frequently used areas/surfaces to our already rigorous sanitation procedures
- We communicate openly and frequently with our employees through bulletins, letters and tv monitors in common spaces to keep them informed and provide them information on handwashing and other hygiene measures, as well as tips on how to stay safe outside of the workplace
- We work closely with local Public Health Agencies and the Ministry of Labour to ensure our infection control measures are effective and up-to-date
- We meet weekly with our onsite CFIA management team to share information and establish collaborative efforts to keep all of our employees safe
- We work together with the rest of our industry to share knowledge and develop best practices, and continue to consult with health experts and regulators to ensure that we are doing the best possible job in combating the spread of this disease
We remain committed to ensuring our workplace is safe and fulfilling the high consumer demand for healthy, safe, best-quality chicken.