Last updated March 11, 2021
AHS continues to work with Occupational Health & Safety (Government of Alberta) the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and Alberta Health (AH), to ensure that outbreaks and incidents of COVID-19 illness in meat processing facilities are being addressed, and workers, families and communities, protected.
AHS previously established a dedicated Task Force to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks associated with meat packing facilities, both at the workplaces themselves, and in the communities surrounding these facilities.
The CFIA is responsible for food safety inspection in meat processing facilities and AHS provides guidance to the companies regarding physical distancing, disinfection and public health requirements. AHS and the CFIA continue to work closely together with Cargill, Harmony Beef, JBS Canada, Olymel and the employees’ respective unions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It is important to note that there is currently no scientific evidence that food or food packaging is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.
We are all in this together. COVID-19 is an international pandemic, and no one is to blame.
Discrimination is unacceptable and does not reflect the reality of any COVID-19 outbreak.
Calgary: In October 2020, a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the Cargill meat packaging facility in Calgary. An outbreak was previously declared at this site in August 2020.
High River: In December 2020, an outbreak was declared at the Cargill meat processing plant in High River. A COVID-19 outbreak was previously declared at that site in April 2020.
Harmony Beef Company
In October 2020, an outbreak was declared at the Harmony Beef Company meat processing facility in Balzac. Previous outbreaks at this facility occurred in March and August 2020.
An outbreak was declared in April 2020 at the JBS Canada meat processing facility in Brooks.
An outbreak was declared in November 2020 at the Olymel meat processing plant in Red Deer.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) continues to work closely with these facilities, along with Occupational Health & Safety (Government of Alberta) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) since the initial COVID-19 cases were identified at these facilities. A number of measures have been put into place to help stop the spread of COVID-19 among employees at Cargill, Harmony Beef Company and JBS Canada.
Every case of COVID-19 identified in Alberta is immediately followed by case investigation contact tracing work done by AHS. This same is true for all outbreak-associated cases. AHS identifies and connects with all COVID-19 cases and their close contacts.
AHS is working with partners, including Primary Care Networks (PCNs), immigrant organizations, municipalities and housing and social service organizations to ensure the needs of those impacted are met, and to address any concerns that a community may be experiencing with regards to discrimination against individuals.
AHS and PCNs worked together not only to identify those impacted by these outbreaks and their related needs for assistance in isolation, but to also provide:
It is important to ensure that employees and their families have the information they need, so they can take the necessary steps to keep themselves and their families safe. We know that these facilities employ workers whose first language is not English. Our communication efforts involve translation services to ensure employees – and their families – can ask questions and receive responses in their first language.
Recommendations to prepare for COVID-19 in the workplace.