Skip to main content
Welcome to
super saver spring
offer ends april 20
save over $140
Sale ends in
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks
Welcome to
super saver spring
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks
save over $140
// //

Workers walk outside the Olymel pork processing plant, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020 in Vallee-Jonction, Que.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Quebec food-processing company Olymel says it doesn’t plan to close either of its two plants in the province dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.

A hog-slaughter facility in Princeville, Que., northeast of Montreal, reported 14 infections among workers on Thursday, and a plant in Quebec’s Beauce region, southeast of Quebec City, recently reported 126 cases.

Company spokesman Richard Vigneault said regional public-health authorities haven’t recommended either plant be closed. “Of course we assess all our options when we have a crisis like this,” Mr. Vigneault said Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

He said the company has begun testing 120 employees of the Princeville plant, targeting day-shift workers in the cutting room. That facility, about 175 kilometres northeast of Montreal, employs 370 people.

Is my city going back into lockdown? A guide to COVID-19 rules across Canada

COVID-19 news: Updates and essential resources about the pandemic

While at the Valle-Jonction, Que., facility in the Beauce region, mass testing of employees has ended and the company hired a nurse to work on site and assess employees' symptoms.

But Martin Maurice, the head of the union representing workers at the Beauce plant, said some employees remain worried.

“What we want is for the workers to work safely and we don’t think that’s the case right now,” Mr. Maurice said of the plant, where the recent death of a 65-year-old colleague is suspected of being COVID-19-related. The local health authority said the man’s family has requested an autopsy.

Mr. Vigneault said the company is offering employees advance pay so they don’t hide their symptoms or come to work sick.

Steve Houle, the head of the union representing workers at the Princeville plant, said he was satisfied with the company’s safety measures. But he echoed Mr. Maurice’s concern about employees who may be reluctant to stay home if they have symptoms because they fear not being paid. “For a lot of people, losing a few days of work makes the difference between being able to pay the bills,” Mr. Houle said.

Mr. Vigneault said the advance pay is meant to address that concern. He said Olymel is also adding a 65-minute buffer between shifts to ensure employees don’t mix, and is reducing overtime and encouraging physical distancing. Olymel is also asking employees to avoid car pooling and to instead use shuttle buses provided by the company.

Story continues below advertisement

Many meat-processing plants across North America have been affected by COVID-19 outbreaks since the start of the pandemic. Mr. Houle said it’s not always easy to maintain physical distancing in meat plants.

“It’s very hard to distance in an environment like this, there’s plexiglass between us but we’re all near each other,” he said.

Public-health officials announced Friday afternoon that Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region and all of the Chaudière-Appalaches region were being elevated to the highest COVID-19 alert level, with measures taking effect Monday. Previously only part of Chaudière-Appalaches was at the high-alert level.

Twelve regions of the province are now either partly or entirely in the so-called red zone, which carries increased restrictions such as the closing of bars, theatres, restaurant dining rooms and gyms.

The government announced this week that red-zone restrictions would remain in place until Nov. 23. It said Friday that some restrictions could be relaxed before that date in regions where a decline in new cases is observed.

Also Friday, Quebec City police said a gym owner and two clients were each fined $1,000 for defying public-health rules ordering them shut.

Story continues below advertisement

Police spokesman David Pelletier said Gym Olympe was first visited on Thursday and an offence report was filed with the Crown. Officers handed out fines on the spot when they returned Friday.

The Legault government adopted a decree this week providing for stiff fines for gyms and their customers after a number of fitness centres threatened to reopen in defiance of the public-health rules.

Quebec reported 952 new COVID-19 infections Friday and 18 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. The number of patients in hospital increased by six compared with the previous day, for a total of 515, and 81 people were in intensive care, a rise of three.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies