GFM Network News


As meat plant infections rise, Canada lets packers choose when to close

Beef plants at heart of Alberta's largest COVID-19 community outbreaks

Winnipeg | Reuters — In Cargill’s High River, Alta. plant, supplier of more than one-third of Canada’s beef, 391 workers were sick with COVID-19 when the company suspended operations, according to provincial health officials. But Maple Leaf Foods decided to idle a poultry plant for eight days, in Brampton, Ont., after just three workers were […] Read more

Pork sector’s calls for aid heard, not yet answered

Federal government says it's examining "all options"

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s office said late last week the government is working “around the clock” to respond to the pandemic’s impact on farmers and agri-food businesses. But there was no commitment to the direct support Canadian pork industry officials say is now necessary to carry the sector through a crisis which has led […] Read more


Vancouver health officials shut poultry processor

COVID-19 hits at least 28 employees

Health officials in Vancouver have closed a federally inspected poultry plant in that city after confirming an outbreak of COVID-19 so far affecting over two dozen employees. The public health arm of Vancouver Coastal Health, the regional health authority for the greater Vancouver area, on Tuesday declared a COVID-19 outbreak among staff at United Poultry […] Read more

CFIA funded to build up inspection corps against COVID-19

Short spells of disruptions still to be expected at food plants

Ottawa — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is spending $20 million to hire, train and equip additional staff members to limit disruptions resulting from COVID-19. With meat packers and food processing plants considering extended hours as they adjust to taking extra measures to combat the pandemic, CFIA was in need of a response to […] Read more


Workers in the JBS beef plant at Brooks, Alta. appear in a screen shot from a 2018 corporate video. (JBS Canada video screengrab via YouTube)

Third major Alberta beef plant confirms COVID-19 cases

JBS in Brooks is the latest with infected workers, but will continue operations

UPDATED, April 17 — Cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed at three of Alberta’s major beef packing plants. Three cases of COVID-19 were confirmed Wednesday at the JBS beef packing plant in Brooks, said Tom Hesse, Local 401 president with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Canada. JBS Canada spokesman Cameron Bruett confirmed some […] Read more

Alberta’s provincial meat inspectors to train for federal duty

Provincial inspectors to be seconded to CFIA-inspected packers

Provincial meat inspectors in Alberta could soon be seconded to federally inspected packing plants under a new work-sharing arrangement between the province and Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The federal and Alberta governments announced Wednesday they would partner to “increase food inspector capacity” in the province and thus “ensure the continuous operation of Alberta’s food supply […] Read more


Alberta’s Harmony Beef halts slaughter on positive COVID-19 test

CFIA pulls inspectors after plant employee tests positive

Ottawa/Winnipeg | Reuters — Harmony Beef, an Alberta packing plant, halted cattle slaughter on Friday after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) kept some inspectors from work, due to a positive test for COVID-19 by a Harmony worker, the company said. The partial closure follows a positive COVID-19 test by a worker at U.S. chicken […] Read more

Meat packing sector needs federal inspectors

Shared staff, recalling recent retirees among options on table

The federal government is working on ways it can maintain inspection staffing levels at federally-licensed meat packing plants. Speaking to media Saturday in Ottawa, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau addressed concerns surrounding the ability of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to continue meat inspection work. The Reuters news service on Monday quoted two unnamed sources […] Read more


Manitoba to pilot insurance program against hog disease risks

Pork council study backed with federal, provincial funds

“Private sector solutions” to manage financial risks caused by disease outbreaks on hog farms are on the drawing board in a new Manitoba-led pilot project that could go nationwide. Coming out of a Thursday morning meeting with hog producers in Winnipeg, federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced $482,158 from the AgriRisk Initiatives (ARI) arm of […] Read more

CFIA rethinking limits on travellers’ personal food imports

Consultation running until March

The federal government is considering changes to the amounts of food travellers can bring into Canada with them from other countries for their personal use. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Thursday announced public online consultations on the proposed new limits, which CFIA said would “better reflect the volume of foods typically moved by travellers […] Read more