Canada Invests Millions in Meat Plant Worker Safety

Canada has just announced that it will be investing millions of dollars to mitigate COVID-19 risks at meat processing plants.

Canada has announced a sizable funding plan to ensure the safety of workers and reduce the risk of production bottlenecks at 24 meat processing plant facilities around the country.

The Canadian government will be funding the worker safety initiative with over C$7.8 million dollars divided up between the plants. The money will help mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19, with funds going towards enabling social distancing, purchasing reusable PPE, installing protective barriers, improving sanitation and developing training for employees.

The funding is part of the C$77.5 milling Emergency Processing Fund which aids processors in their journey to protect workers in the meat processing industry. The fund will also support facility upgrades that strengthen Canada’s food supply.

The news of Canada’s meat plant funding comes as United States’ Meat Packing Plants report dire conditions and the need for funding when it comes to worker safety and health.

In a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing last week, advocates said meatpacking, poultry and agriculture workers faced “devastating” conditions during the pandemic due to a lax approach to worker safety by employers and federal regulators.

According to FERN’s database on the spread of COVID-19 in the food system, nearly 88,000 food system workers have contracted the virus over the past year.

Debbie Berkowitz, the worker safety and health program director at the National Employment Law Project and a former official at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the results of the rampant spread of the virus lead to “more meatpacking and poultry workers dying of Coronavirus-related illnesses in the last 12 months of the pandemic, than from all work-related causes in the last 15 years.”

Workers in the food system are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, but getting the appointment could prove difficult.

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