Loading articles...

OHS investigating two meat-packing plants at the centre of Alberta’s COVID-19 outbreak

Last Updated Apr 23, 2020 at 6:12 am MDT

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — Two investigations have been launched by Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) at meat plants in Alberta after COVID-19 cases ballooned in the facilities.

The outbreak at the Cargill meat-packing plant in High River has resulted in one death and 440 workers with the deadly virus, with 580 cases linked to this outbreak.

The JBS meat-packing plant in Brooks currently has 96 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

A death has occurred at this site; however, Alberta Health Services is investigating whether this death was due to the virus.

Shawn McLeod, deputy minister of Alberta Labour, confirmed in Wednesday’s COVID-19 update OHS is looking into whether working conditions played a role in people getting sick.

“These investigations are looking at the circumstances surrounding potential exposure of workers at these facilities to the COVID-19 disease. This will include investigations of any potential non-compliance that may have affected the health and safety of workers at the facility,” McLeod said.

The investigation will take as long as needed to complete and no further comments will be made as this is an ongoing case.

Premier Jason Kenney was asked about how these outbreaks might influence Alberta’s reopening strategy, saying the province has hundreds of other facilities fully functioning.

“We have some 200 licensed meat-processing facilities in Alberta, and we have seen significant outbreaks in two of those, so one per cent,” Kenney said.

“I’d like to see this as a reflection of our success in containing the spread and we’ve acted quickly where there have been outbreaks.”

The premier added his government plans to announce key metrics to guide the relaunch strategy to get people back to work in the days to come.