Federal Emergency Processing Fund was announced last spring to help protect meat plant employees from COVID—19
Twenty-four meat processing operations across the Prairies have so far used $7.8 million in federal funds to support their safety measures and investments related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal Emergency Processing Fund was announced May 5, 2020, when the threats to meat processing became apparent during the pandemic, causing temporary closures and slowdowns. The fund was backed by a $77.5 million federal investment.
Jim Carr, special representative for the Prairies, said March 2 that the fund was designed to help protect meat plant employees from COVID-19 through various safety measures implemented by plant operators.
“Early on in the crisis it was clear to our government that we needed to protect the health of all front—line workers while keeping the food supply chain strong. It was also very clear that new safety measures would place a significant financial burden on businesses such as yours. We were simply not going to let Canadian food processors face this crisis alone,” said Carr.
Operations had to apply for the funds, which were used for such things as installation of protective barriers between workers, purchase of personal protective equipment, improved sanitation and employee training.
“Our prairie meat businesses have shown incredible resilience throughout this time of crisis,” said Carr.
“The investments announced today (March 2) are helping many local businesses adapt their operations to help protect the health and safety of their employees, which will allow them to continue supplying good food for Canadians.”
Carr said the federal government has trained more Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors and is working with provinces to help smaller producers trade more easily across provincial borders.
Barriers to inter-provincial trade have long been cited by processors and livestock industry groups as impediments to creation of additional slaughter capacity.
He also noted the program helped the livestock industry avoid food waste.
“Investments we are making today are important so these businesses can make the upgrades needed to comply with provincial health regulations and they prevent any backlogs in the system, which not only mean food processes and availability aren’t jeopardized, but we aren’t wasting the animals we have worked so hard to raise.”
Sixteen companies in Alberta received funds through the program, along with three in Saskatchewan and five in Manitoba.
Among the three recipients in Alberta who received six-figure amounts were JBS Food Canada, which operates a beef slaughter plant in Brooks ($804,912), Aliya Foods of Edmonton ($406,999) and Soleterra d’Italia of Acme ($231,096). See full list below.
Recipients in Saskatchewan were Drake Meat Processors in Drake, ($49,500), Pineview All Natural Meats in Corman Park near Saskatoon ($40,000) and Prairie Pride Natural Foods in Saskatoon ($14,175).
In Manitoba, three of the five recipients were HyLife Ltd., which has three processing plants ($3.67 million); Winkler Meats ($1.447 million); and True North Foods ($320,000).
As well, Olymel, headquartered in Quebec, will receive up to $1.6 million with a portion used to improve safety measures at its facilities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Carr said the government provided a set-aside program to help beef producers last year when COVID-19 outbreaks reduced slaughter capacity and created a backlog of market-ready cattle. The same situation has now occurred with market-ready hogs due to the temporary closure of the Olymel plant in Red Deer.
“Our government stands ready to help producers affected by the temporary closure of the Olymel plant in Red Deer, Alberta,” said Carr.
“If needed, federal funding will be there to assist pork producers with extraordinary herd management costs, such as additional feed costs.”
The Red Deer plant restarted its operations March 4 after a 14-day halt and a backlog of about 90,000 hogs was created.
In Alberta, recipients of funds through the Emergency Processing Fund include:
- Aliya’s Foods Limited — $406,999
- Bouvry Export Calgary Ltd. — $27,150
- Bry-Conn Developments Inc. — $16,576
- Canada Lamb Processors Ltd.— $22,404
- Cut-Rite Meats Ltd. — $71,432
- Forestburg Meat Processing Inc. — $137,271
- Harmony Beef Company Limited — $88,134
- Irvings Farm Fresh Ltd. — $44,250
- JBS Food Canada — $804,912
- Provost Packers Ltd. — $49,980
- Ryley Sausage (1991) Ltd. — $44,182
- Serben Farms — $14,500
- Soleterra d’Italia — $231,096
- Spolumbo’s Fine Foods & Deli — $69,472
- Trochu Meat Processors Ltd. — $63,287
- Viva Deli Inc. — $70,184
In Saskatchewan, recipients include:
- Drake Meat Processors Inc. — $49,500
- Pineview All Natural Meats Inc. — $40,000
- Prairie Pride Natural Foods Ltd. — $14,175
In Manitoba, recipients include:
- 6381023 Manitoba Ltd. — $320,000
- East 40 Packers Ltd. — $99,999
- HyLife Ltd. — $3,670,334
- Timothy’s Country Butcher Shop — $32,174
- Winkler Meats Ltd. — $1,447,693