Maple Leaf to mandate vaccines by end of March

·3 min read

Maple Leaf Foods is mandating double COVID-19 vaccinations for all its employees and contractors on-site by the end of March.

The company gave advance notice of the decision to all those affected on Dec. 13 and 14. The mandate applies to all employees and contractors who work at Maple Leaf sites.

“We strongly believe that vaccinations are safe, effective and save lives, and that’s why we are requiring team members employed by Maple Leaf Foods to be vaccinated, along with contractors who work at our sites. Team members who work in the hog barns we own are required to be vaccinated,” vice-president of communications and public affairs Janet Riley said in an email interview.

The advance notice was given to allow hourly and salaried team members at office plants and company-owned barns and contractors who work at sites ample time to arrange for COVID-19 vaccinations if needed.

Employees who are not fully vaccinated by the end of March will be placed on unpaid leave.

Maple Leaf will work with any staff who may be unable to get the jab for medical reasons to establish exemptions and appropriate accommodations.

“This is a very important decision for our leadership team. In our mind, if we can save just one life through this decision, it’s worth it,” Riley said.

She noted Maple Leaf has hosted vaccine clinics at the Brandon plant, and plans are in the work to host more at a future date.

The Maple Leaf Foods plant in Brandon employs more than 2,000 people.

“COVID has caused a disruption to businesses that has lasted nearly two years,” Riley said. “We believe that the best way to beat the pandemic, to keep our people safe and to restore normalcy to our business is to require that team members at our plants and our company-owned barns, together with contractors who work at our sites, to be fully vaccinated.”

The Brandon Sun reported an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred among Maple Leaf’s team members in Brandon in the summer of 2020, which resulted in a push for the plant’s temporary shutdown as a precaution. This push by the union and opposition parties within the province was rejected, as the transmission was not believed to have taken place at the plant itself.

Maple Leaf Foods has been committed to providing a safe workplace since the pandemic began, Riley said. This has included deploying a pandemic plan, conducting daily health and temperature screenings, requiring masks and social distancing, installing plexiglass separators between workstations when possible and adding trailers on-site at some sites to decrease density in employee welfare areas.

Riley noted as vaccines have become available, Maple Leaf employees have been encouraged to get the COVID-19 jab.

“As the world strives to bring the pandemic under control, the science tells us that the surest way to get there is to increase vaccination rates. With that in mind, we have taken the next step in our in our efforts against COVID-19, by announcing we will be requiring all our team members to be vaccinated by the end of March 2022,” Riley said.

» ckemp@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp

Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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