The union representing more than 2,000 employees at the Maple Leaf plant in Brandon is calling for it to be shut down for further investigation and cleaning after four members have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
UCFW Local 832 president Jeff Traeger said they were advised of a first case on Sunday and then three more cases Wednesday evening.
“Maple Leaf has done everything that they could do to prevent COVID getting into their plant, however, in the end that has not been successful,” he said. “That is why you hear UFCW calling to shut down the plant until all of those they are waiting for test results on come back and also to do a real thorough cleaning.”
The union expressed these concerns in a letter to the Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living Cameron Friesen in a letter on Thursday morning. The minister defferred to Dr. Brent Roussin, the provincial chief public health officer.
The province announced 18 new cases in a Brandon cluster on Thursday, bringing the total to 28, and a spokesman for the province said three of the four cases are considered part of the cluster.
Traeger said Maple Leaf has met all safety recommendations when it comes to prevention during the pandemic and in some cases gone beyond that, including PPE, touchpoint and additional cleaning every day and screening people before entering the site.
There are more than 2,300 people who work at the plant.
With outbreaks at other plants like the Cargill plant in Alberta that had more than 900 workers infected with community spread hitting a total of 1,500 people. The union is calling for further precautions to make sure that is not bubbling under the surface here.
“(Our members) are scared. They’re very scared,” said Traeger. “They think this is a highly unusual risk to have to take to work. Many of them have asked to shut the plant down or if we can’t whether or not they can not go to work.”
Not going to work is not an option due to the precautions taken by Maple Leaf. The workers are also concerned that if they have a symptom and have to self-isolate whether or not they will get paid.
Janet Riley, vice president of communications, said in an email, that after an examination of the situation the transmission appears to be in the community not at the plant. She also said they have activated their COVID-19 response plan and have asked additional team members to self isolate out of precaution.
“We will continue to operate our Brandon plant as long as we believe we can provide an environment that will protect the safety of our people while working,” she said.
According to the union, Maple Leaf has been resistant to close the plant, believing the spread to be in the community not at the plant. The cluster of cases are believed to be linked to an individual travelling from Eastern Canada.
Roussin said the plant is not yet in a position where it needs to shut down.
“As we’re looking at things, we are not seeing evidence of transmission occurring in the workplace and so that would be the important thing that would concern us if we saw it,” he said.
Wab Kinew, leader of the opposition, called for the plant’s closure until Monday so it could be checked out thoroughly.
“In this case, when we’re seeing cases go up and the organization that’s alerting us to these cases, the union, is saying that there is an issue and we’ve got to hit the pause button, then we’ve got to support that,” he said.
According to their website, the Maple Leaf plant in Brandon processes 90,000 weekly, making it one of the biggest in the country. Other processing facilities in Canada have had to shut down, like the Olymel plant in Yamachiche, Que, and the hog industry is still dealing with the backlog.
Sylvain Charlebois, the senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said shutting down this plant would cause a major disruption for the industry.
“The challenge that we have with chicken and pork is the production cycle is unforgiving, it’s so tight. If you shut down the production cycle for a few weeks you end up with huge backlogs,” he said. “Shutting the plant down in Brandon should be a measure of last resort.”
Daughter of man in Burnaby care home with active COVID-19 cases says health protocols not met – News 1130
BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — A woman whose elderly father is living in a B.C. care home with active cases of COVID-19 says the facility isn’t following proper health protocols.
Heather was visiting her father at Burnaby’s George Derby Centre last week and says she’s worried for her father’s health.
“It was like a zoo in there,” she says. “There were so many people, the care patients downstairs just sitting around in wheelchairs all right next to each other.”
Staff also didn’t use a temperature gauge on visitors and didn’t provide anyone with hand sanitizer before they walked into the building, according to Heather.
“My dad just went in there, he was perfectly fine in this other place, it was much better, and when i saw it was not the same at all, not the same quality of care.”
Heather says she didn’t say anything at the moment but when she went home and talked to a friend, it made her realize the number of protocols not followed.
Two cases of COVID-19 reported Friday at the Burnaby healthcare facility include one worker, and one in a resident which are unrelated, according to Fraser Health.
The George Derby Centre is a “campus of care” which includes an independent living facility and a long-term care home.
The staff member works in the independent living facility, Derby Manor.
Ottawa Public Health asks businesses to encourage mask use by staff in break rooms, kitchens – CTV Edmonton
Ottawa Public Health is urging all businesses to promote wearing face masks by employees in areas not covered by Ottawa’s mandatory face mask bylaw, including break rooms and changing areas.
And businesses are being encouraged to do “active screening” of all employees during the pandemic to help limit the spread of novel coronavirus.
Associate Medical Officer of Health Brent Moloughney says the health unit is still seeing cases of COVID-19 where employees are going to work while symptomatic.
“For this reason, OPH strongly encourages all businesses to do active screening of employees to make sure no one is going to work when they are sick or feeling unwell,” said Dr. Moloughney in a statement released on Friday afternoon.
Ottawa Public Health has a health-screening questionnaire available on its website.
“Reminder, Ottawa Public Health does not recommend asymptomatic employees be tested before starting work since the results reflect just a snapshot in time and can be falsely reassuring,” said Dr. Moloughney.
Council passed a bylaw in July making face masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces. Ottawa’s mandatory face mask bylaw includes an exemption that allows employees working in non-public areas or behind a physical barrier to go maskless while working in public buildings.
Dr. Moloughney says public health encourages businesses to “promote mask use in areas not covered by the bylaw including non-public common areas such as break rooms, kitchens, changing areas, etc. to help further prevent COVID-19 transmission among staff.”
Since the first case of COVID-19 on March 11, there have been 2,623 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 264 deaths.
A total of 2,204 people have recovered after testing positive for novel coronavirus.
Villa Marconi Long-Term Care reports staff case of COVID-19; OPH sees 13 city-wide – OttawaMatters.com
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says 13 more people have tested postive for COVID-19 while Villa Marconi Long-Term Care reports one staff case.
The number of active cases that the health agency is aware of is down to 155. It’s the third straight day that number has fallen — down from 207 on Wednesday.
OPH says 12 people are in local hospitals with COVID-19. Of those, two patients are in intensive care.
The local death toll since the beginning of the pandemic is still at 264, as there has been just one death linked to the virus in Ottawa since June 25.
Overall, there have been 2,623 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the capital, 2,204 (84 per cent) of which have been resolved.
Villa Marconi Long-Term Care is among 12 Ottawa institutions dealing with outbreaks of COVID-19. There are just four long-term care homes with at least one staff or resident case of the virus.
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