The federal government has announced funding for meat processing companies across the prairies, including Red Deer’s slaughterhouse.
Olymel, a meat packing and processing company headquartered in Quebec, is receiving up to $1.6 million through the Emergency Processing Fund, says the government, with a portion of the funding being used to support improved safety measures at its facilities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
About 24 meat processing companies across the prairies are receiving up to $7.8 million in funding through the program to help improve worker safety, according to the Liberal government.
In central Alberta, these projects include Viva-Deli Inc. in Red Deer, which will receive $70,187, Canada Lamb Processors Ltd. in Red Deer County, which will receive $22,404, and Trochu Meat Processors Ltd., which will receive $63,287.
Recipients are using this funding to make adjustments to enable social distancing, purchase reusable personal protective equipment, install protective barriers, improve sanitation and develop training for employees. These changes are aimed at helping the food plants avoid production bottlenecks and safely keep up with Canadian consumer demand.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on many challenges for the food processing industry, in particular for meat processing plants of all sizes,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food.
“The hard-working women and men in this industry continue to step up to ensure Canadians have high-quality food on their plates. Through the Emergency Processing Fund, we are giving businesses the support they need to keep their employees safe and our food systems running strong.”
Owners of Viva-Deli in Red Deer, Inessa and Vitali Kojla, said they are grateful of this support during the pandemic.
“As we are a new food manufacturing company, the funding has helped us to accommodate all the regulations that were put in place during COVID-19. We were able to keep operating our facility, keep a safe environment for our staff by separating our employees, improving our air quality and being compliant with local/provincial regulations,” they said.