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Shutdown of second Alberta meat plant with COVID-19 cases inevitable: Union


April 21, 2020
By The Canadian Press

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A union is warning that a meat-packing plant in southern Alberta is postponing the inevitable by staying open after another facility in the province temporarily shut down because of COVID-19.

Production at Cargill, just north of High River, was shut down Monday after an outbreak linked to 484 cases of the illness, including the death of a worker.

The JBS plant in Brooks had recorded 67 cases as of Monday.

JBS says it is trying to ensure the facility remains open, but won’t operate it if it isn’t safe or if absentee levels result in an inability to operate safely.

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The president of the Agriculture Union that represents federal meat inspectors says it’s a matter of time before JBS is forced to temporarily halt production as well.

Fabian Murphy says a 14-day shutdown would allow all employees to self-isolate and, after that, production could resume.

He says so far no inspectors at JBS have tested positive for the virus, but seven inspectors at the Cargill plant have been infected.

Alberta Health says it has a team in place to initiate plans to keep meat plant employees safe.