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Conestoga Meats – Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

At Conestoga Meats, the health and well-being of our employees, producers, customers, suppliers, and community is our top priority.

We understand the concern and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and are committed to being responsive to the needs of these stakeholders.

As a result, Conestoga Meats is continuously monitoring the development of the Coronavirus and evolving our contingency plan as required.

In turn, senior leadership is meeting daily with our cross-functional COVID-19 Containment Team to ensure coordinated efforts are focused as changes occur within our community and abroad.

We have also established a COVID-19 Action Team that is meeting daily and is responsible for coordinating, communicating and optimizing our processes, systems and people to ensure we are able to continue to provide pork to our customers.

Our key priorities remain:

  1. To ensure the health and welfare of our employees and community
  2. To maintain the supply chain for our producers and end users
  3. To continue to deliver a high level of service to our customers

In response to the ongoing social and economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, Conestoga Meats has implemented the following measures to support the efforts of its employees to continue to supply food to our community during our current health crisis.

People First:

To recognize the essential efforts of our employees, Conestoga implemented a $2 per hour Hero Pay premium for all hourly employees starting on March 23rd. Recently, Premier Ford highlighted the importance of essential workers, like Conestoga team members, and implemented a $4 per hour pandemic premium for the coming months for those workers. Recognizing that all essential workers deserve to be treated equally, Conestoga increased its Hero Pay premium to $4 per hour effective May 4th. This extra premium is recognition of the important work that our team is doing feeding the world and keeping the Ontario farm and livestock sector in operation. They are our Conestoga heroes!

Screening and Sanitizing:

Prior to the start of shifts, all employees are subject to temperature checks and screening questions specific to COVID-19 symptom. If they do not meet the criteria outlined in the questionnaire, the employee is sent home until cleared by a health professional.

Thermal imaging equipment has also been installed to assist in temperature screening of all employees.

Additional staff has also been hired to clean common touch surfaces throughout our facilities, as well as monitor washing stations at points of entry to the plant to ensure all workers entering production areas are sanitizing properly.

Social Distancing:

Conestoga Meats continues to take all possible measures to ensure appropriate social distancing for our employees.

As such, we have expanded employee-eating areas to include repurposed meeting rooms as well as additional heated tents to aid in social distancing during break times. We have rearranged our shifts to have fewer people at the plant at one time and are using alternate entries into the plant to maximize social distancing and minimize interaction at shift changes as much as possible.

As well, to further reduce possible line ups at the beginning and end of shifts, we have eliminated the need to punch in and out for regular shifts. We have also suspended all unnecessary training and meetings and are conducting essential meetings electronically or by teleconference.

A team of 30 Health and Safety Monitors have been assembled to oversee eating areas and hallways daily to ensure compliance with COVID-19 control procedures and proper use of protective equipment at all times.

Protective equipment and procedures have been adjusted accordingly:

  • A review of every production job was completed and protections provided to ensure team member safety in the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Eye, nose and mouth covering is mandatory for every position – all team members wear masks throughout the Conestoga facility
  • More than 150 dividers have been installed on the plant floor to support physical distancing
  • Plexiglass table dividers were installed in all lunch rooms to enhance physical distancing

Working with Experts:

Since the start of the pandemic, Conestoga Meats has been working with Region of Waterloo Public Health to share information. This work has intensified with the onset of COVID-19 cases among our employees. All positive cases are reviewed by Region of Waterloo Public Health with Conestoga providing detailed case and contact tracing information. Employees who are ill are contacted frequently by Conestoga staff and provided with any needed help as well as access to the company’s support systems. All Conestoga employees who are working are informed of positive cases on a daily basis.

Despite the fact that Public Health had indicated that our procedures were appropriate and that all Ministry of Labour investigations had resulted in no orders being issued, our farmer owners and the company determined that we would benefit from additional time to implement further-enhanced health and safety measures and to ensure that all procedures currently in place were 100%. As a result, Conestoga Meats voluntarily paused production for one week and started back full production on Monday May 4th.

It should also be noted that on Friday May 1st Conestoga Meats invited both the Ministry of Labour and Region of Waterloo Public Health as well as the company’s Joint Health and Safety Committee and Communications Committee (both elected by employees) to tour the facility and provide feedback prior to starting back up.

Conestoga has also continually provided information and reinforced expectations that employees will practice provincially-mandated COVID-19 prevention measures at home, also in multiple languages.

Written COVID-19 updates are being communicated via Dayforce to workers daily in eight different and posted throughout the facility.

Given the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Conestoga Meats will be updating this information as new developments occur. Last update: Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 11:15 a.m.

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