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Maple Leaf Foods meat plant urged to shut down after several COVID-19 infections

Multiple groups are calling for the Maple Leaf Foods pork processing facility in Brandon, Man. to temporarily shut down operations after eight workers tested positive for COVID-19.

A union representing almost 2,000 workers at the Brandon plant is at the forefront of voices calling for the facility to cease production until the situation is brought under control.

"Yesterday, the Union was informed about an additional four positive cases of COVID-19 among members at the plant," said Jeff Traeger, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832, in a statement on Aug. 7.

"We are expecting that this number will continue to increase, and we are renewing our call on Maple Leaf to halt production in the Brandon plant until this situation is under control."

Dozens of employees at the Brandon plant that have potentially been exposed to the virus have gone into self-isolation, and a similar number are awaiting outstanding test results.

The union's request to temporarily shut down the plant is backed by multiple Manitoba opposition leaders, including NDP Leader Wab Kinew and Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont.

"It's something that their union has recommended," Lamont told reporters on Thursday, per CBC News. "It should be shut down temporarily because there needs to be a full screen of all the employees done."

On Friday, Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain said that 10 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to the pork processing plant in Brandon, but that there's no evidence of spread within the plant.

"All cases have been investigated and determine to be acquired in the community," McCain said in a statement, highlighting the plant's daily temperature screenings, PPE, and sanitation policies.

"We are confident that our workplace is safe and we will continue operating," he said.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Manitoba Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said that there's no evidence that the Brandon workers contracted COVID-19 at the plant.

"All cases appear to have contracted the virus outside of the workplace," Roussin said. "To be clear, there is no evidence of workplace transmission at this time."

Lead photo by

Maple Leaf Foods

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