Red Deer’s Olymel pork processing plant currently has 10 active COVID-19 cases.
Olymel spokesperson Richard Vigneault said Friday regular operations are continuing at the plant and no outbreak has been declared. Infected employees were also experiencing milder symptoms which is positive.
He said COVID cases have been on the rise at Olymel plants in Canada as the Omicron variant continues to spread.
“There are some slow downs, but currently all our plants are in operation,” Vigneault said.
In early 2021, the Red Deer plant had about 500 cases of COVID-19 and four fatalities linked to an outbreak, including three workers who died.
Olymel has about 9,500 employees in Quebec, and 4,500 in the rest of Canada. With more than 1,700 workers, the Red Deer plant has the most workers of any of the company’s plant.
Vigneault said Olymel continues to follow all rules and sanitary measures to reduce the spread of COVID, including promoting vaccinations as well as the booster shot.
“We’re more than 80 per cent vaccinated at the plant in Red which is a good rate,” he said about employees who have received two doses.
The company is still offering $25 bonus to workers each time they are vaccinated, including the booster.
He said Olymel did request that Alberta Health Services set up a vaccination clinic for boosters.
“There will be no on-site vaccination so far.”
He said Olymel believes vaccination, and all the other prevention measures, are the best way to keep workers safe.
“Our priority is our employees health because without employees not much can be done.”
In November, Olymel was looking to hire 3,000 more workers across Canada.
Vigneault said Olymel is continuing its recruitment efforts. Staffing levels are better in Alberta, but there is always a need for more workers because of retirements and the variety of reasons that cause employees to be absent.
“We’re still in a situation of a very severe manpower shortage across Canada. Some places are more severe than others. We’re actively looking for candidates for employment, mostly in Quebec.”
He said food production was deemed an essential activity, both federally and provincially, at the start of the pandemic, and that remains the case.
“We’re working with living animals. If we stopped the plants there is a big impact on the producers.”