Feds help B.C. food processing companies boost safety

Federal funds can be used to purchase PPE, increase cleaning, improve air circulation, develop training

Feds help B.C. food processing companies boost safety
Ottawa is investing $16.9 million to help boost safety at 117 food processing companies in British Columbia.

The federal government is investing $16.9 million through the Emergency Processing Fund to help boost safety at 117 food processing companies in British Columbia.

Recipients can use the funding to enable social distancing, purchase reuseable personal protective equipment (PPE), increase cleaning, improve air circulation within their facilities and develop employee training.

While roughly three-quarters of U.S. workers want daily cleaning of their workplace amid the pandemic, even more want an extra layer of defence these days – disinfecting.

There are over 3,000 food processing companies in British Columbia, producing about $9 billion worth of food per year and supporting more than 26,000 jobs.

One of the recipients is Earth's Own Food Company, a health food and beverage manufacturing company in Delta, which is receiving up to $2 million.

"This program has allowed us to rapidly adapt our new installation in real-time to respond to the elevated health needs and requirements of the COVID-19 world,” says Jeremy Switzer, plant manager at the  Annacis Plant. “Additionally, the program enabled us to significantly improve our sanitizing and temperature monitoring protocols and processes on-site to further support our robust COVID-19 mitigation strategies. This helped maintain continued good employee hygiene inside the facility and community health outside, and allowed for our continued, uninterrupted essential food operations to the B.C. and Canadian consumers."

Wearable technology can be a big help in the fight against COVID-19 at the workplace, according to KINETIC, a wearable technology company.

The $77.5-million Emergency Processing Fund is helping food processors implement measures to protect the health and safety of workers and their families in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with an emphasis on supporting meat processing facilities in Canada. A further $10 million is expected to be allocated from internal funds.

Previously, the federal government also provided nearly $85 million in funding for the Mandatory Isolation Support Program for Temporary Foreign Workers to assist Canadian employers with some of the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation on temporary foreign workers upon entering Canada.

It also set a $35-million Emergency On-Farm Support Fund to boost protections for domestic and temporary foreign workers and address COVID-19 outbreaks on farms.

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