By Connor Lynch
When COVID-19 gets into contained spaces, like retirement homes, migrant workers’ bunk houses or processing facilities, it can spread like wildfire.
At Greenhill Produce, an outbreak started in late April when a local worker contracted COVID-19. It soon spread through the farm. By May 7, all 250 employees (113 of them migrant workers) had been tested for COVID-19: 51 tested positive, including two local workers.
But the Kent Bridge greenhouse is just one of many agri-food businesses affected by COVID-19.
• The worst Canadian case by the first week of May was at Cargill’s High River plant in Alberta. The plant had 946 confirmed cases and one person had died. The plant has 2,000 employees.
• A JBS meat processing plant in Alberta had 469 cases of COVID-19 as of May 4 and one death. The plant has over 2,600 employees.
• Harmony Beef, a meat processor north of Calgary, reported on May 5 that there were 36 COVID-19 cases. About 12 workers infected showed no symptoms.
• Conestoga Meat Packers, a Waterloo pork processor, found that seven employees tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-April.
• The Olymel pork processing plant in Quebec, east of Montreal, saw more than 100 employees test positive. The entire workforce of about 1,000 was asked to self-isolate for two weeks.
• Canada’s largest chicken processing plant, Maple Lodge Farms at Brampton, reported at least 25 cases by May 7. The plant has 1,200 full-time employees.
• Maple Leaf Farms reported in late April that 49 employees across seven of its locations had tested positive for COVID-19. One employee at the Montreal plant died.
Canada’s agri-food workers infected — more than 1,500 COVID cases
By Connor Lynch