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

Mission woman wins $50,000 on a scratch ticket

Colleen Monds was speechless after realizing she won on a Casino Royale ticket

Employee at Shoppers Drug Mart in Mission tests positive for COVID-19

One of five BC locations to have positive tests last week for the Loblaws chain

UPDATE: Police seek driver in hit-and-run crash that injured pedestrian

Woman, 59, is in hospital in critical, but stable, condition

Police seek assistance locating missing Hope teen, last seen near Agassiz

RCMP say Jada Charlie-Carlson was last seen Monday in the 61000 block of Lougheed Highway

Green Party announces candidate for Maple Ridge-Mission

Trenholm running for first time in a closely contested riding

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

B.C. VOTES 2020: Businesses now owe $6 billion in deferred tax payments

COVID-19 relief from remittance to province ends with September

Long-term care study credits fewer COVID deaths in B.C. than Ont. to funding, policy

The study was published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal

UPDATE: NDP asks Elections BC to investigate Liberal voter fraud allegations in Surrey-Fleetwood

Liberal MLA candidate for Surrey-Fleetwood Garry Thind issued a written statement Wednesday afternoon

Most Read