Three area meat processors will receive almost $2 million in federal funding to improve worker safety and increase capacity.
Conestoga Meat Packers Ltd. in Breslau is to get $1,570,155; Heidelberg Foods Ltd. will receive $277,575; and Stemmler’s Meats and Cheese Heidelberg Inc. and KST Investments Inc. will get $108,685.
Overall, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-food last week announced $12.2 million for 42 Ontario meat processors under the Emergency Processing Fund.
Recipients of the funding will be able to adopt measures aimed at keeping employees safe. That includes making adjustments to enable social distancing, purchasing reusable personal protective equipment (PPE), implementing biosecurity measures, installing protective barriers, and developing employee training. Supporting facility upgrades and new equipment to boost production capacity is also on the table.
Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis says the funding comes amid the third wave of the pandemic, aimed at keeping workers safe and ensuring that the supply of meat products can continue to get out to Canadians.
“Ontario’s meat processing sector is a major contributor to our local economy. The hardworking people in this industry have shown incredible resilience throughout this crisis. These projects through the Emergency Processing Fund are helping meat processors in Kitchener-Conestoga and throughout our region improve both worker safety and production capacity to keep our food supply running strong,” said Louis.
“The pandemic has shown that these food processing workers are absolutely essential, and that our food supply needs to be safe and secure. A big part of our food supply is that choke point there and the processing capacity, that goes from the farms to your plate. We had to make sure that the workers can stay safe, and that food supply keeps flowing. So, in this third wave, it’s even more essential now that we protect those workers and that we’re still feeding Canadians.”
The lion’s share of the local funding is going to Conestoga Meat Packers, which has grown rapidly in the past five years and is now the second-largest pork producer in the province.
Louis notes the company received $1.3 million in a previous announcement.
To improve safety as the pandemic goes on, he said he hopes to see more rapid testing and says some places can expect to have onsite testing done for workers.
To date, the Emergency Processing Fund has provided up to $32.5 million to 188 projects in Ontario. This is part of a total $77.5 million announced in May of 2020 to help food processors implement measures to protect health and safety.