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An Alberta meat-processing plant is at the centre of a political storm after the CBC and Rachel Notley’s NDP attacked the industry's decision to continue operations. This came despite the industry's critical role in protecting Alberta’s and Canada’s food supply during the lockdown.
The meat processing centre, a JBS plant in Brooks, Alberta, has been tied to an outbreak of coronavirus cases, with 124 cases amongst its workers. Since then, the plant has initiated a wave of reforms in order to keep their workers safe.
JBS is responsible for 40 percent of Canada's beef supply, employing thousands of workers to do so. Their Alberta plant, for instance, processes 4,200 head of cattle per day—nearly half of Canada’s total beef processing capacity.
It is for this reason that the company has been labelled an essential service; their closure would critically injure Canada’s ability to feed its population.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also admitted in April that the indefinite closure of this plant would increase the price of beef across the country, saying that “we are not at this point anticipating shortages of beef, but prices might go up.”
In a CBC article published on April 29 article, the crown broadcasting corporation criticized another Albertan beef plant for planning “to reopen within days, after shutting down for two weeks.” This plant was the Cargill facility.
Similarly, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley said that it was “unconscionable” to keep the Cargill plant in operation, “all because the UCP couldn't see past the supply chain to the people who work there.”
What Notley failed to mention, however, is that these beef plants have since introduced a substantial number of reforms to keep their workers safe. JBS plant, for instance, has now identified and adopted more than 100 preventive measures—including, temperature testing; the mandatory wearing of masks and face shields; and company-enforced social distancing.
As well as this, JBS will now require all sick staff to stay home whilst helping them find government income support and have employed full-time staff to continuously sanitize high-touch and traffic areas of the facility.
Naturally, Rachel Notley’s NDP failed to comment on this, instead using the meat-processing plant as a means to attack Jason Kenney’s UCP.
When The Post Millennial reached out to the JBS plant they said that they were “singularly focused on working with our team and the Brooks community in combating COVID-19.”
JBS went on to say that they had “been deemed an essential service, and we take that responsibility very seriously. Our top priority is to provide a safe working environment for our team members who are helping to feed the country.”
“We have proactively identified and adopted more than 100 preventive measures at the Brooks facility to ensure a safe working environment,” they added. “We are carefully monitoring our risk mitigation measures on a daily basis, and will continue to make decisions based on the best available data and advice from both our team members and public health officials.”