A man walks into a Cargill meat processing factory in Chambly, Que., south of Montreal, Sunday, May 10, 2020. The plant is closing temporarily after at least 64 workers tested positive for COVID-19. Canada’s Agriculture Union fears the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will order non-meat inspectors into infected meat plants, under threat of discipline.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

‘Heavy handed’ approach would force inspectors into infected meat plants: Union

A wave of COVID-19 infections has hit meat-packing plants across the country

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will order non-meat inspectors into meat plants under threat of discipline, according to the union representing agriculture workers.

The agency has instructed some of its non-meat-inspection staff to train up to be deployed to meat slaughter plants that have seen outbreaks of COVID-19, the Agriculture Union said in a statement Monday, asserting that the federal food-safety agency will treat refusals as acts of insubordination.

Union president Fabian Murphy called the approach unacceptable.

“CFIA is ordering its staff to work in facilities that obviously are not safe, and without the proper personal protective gear,” Murphy said in the release.

The union says 18 of 37 inspectors working at the Cargill plant in High River, Alta., have tested positive for the virus, and so have three of six inspectors at another plant.

In a statement about ongoing plant closures due to COVID-19, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Sunday it is important essential workers feel safe.

“We fully recognize the health concerns of workers in certain meat plants. As with all essential workers — proper measures must be in place, if workers can continue to provide essential services to Canadians during these critical times,” the minister said.

READ MORE: Another Cargill meat-processing plant closes after COVID-19 outbreak

In a similar statement about plant closures, the CFIA said the agency is “committed to protecting the health and safety of its employees while maintaining critical inspection services.”

A wave of COVID-19 infections has hit meat-packing plants across the country.

Working conditions for employees in the plants are a provincial responsibility but the federal inspectors are there to make sure the food they produce is safe for consumers.

“We need the prime minister or a senior elected person to intervene to ensure their own staff, federal inspectors are safe,” Murphy said.

The Agriculture Union says it’s reached out to ministers on the matter but has not had a response.

The union also raised concerns the CFIA has assigned inspectors to more than one processing facility, which could encourage the spread of the virus from plant to plant.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Void of summer events going to be felt in Chemainus

CBIA cancels Classics Car Show and Canada Day celebrations

Paid sick leave a must going forward

The chickens are coming home to roost, so to speak, on this issue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cowichan RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Courier continues through home work

Willow Street office in Chemainus no longer being utilized

Ladysmith A&W plans community Rod Run for June 4

Cruisin’ the Dub will look a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Most Read