Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips is calling for new protective measures at southern Alberta’s major food processing plants to protect workers and their communities.

The Cargill meat processing plant in High River has quickly become the largest COVID-19 outbreak in Alberta with 360 employees testing positive as of Monday and 484 cases directly linked to the outbreak.

Cargill has since announced it is temporarily shutting down and Phillips says the JBS meat packing plant in Brooks needs to follow suit. “When you have employers which have not implemented proper social distancing before the last week or so, you end up with massive outbreaks. We’ve seen it in the United States and now we’re seeing it in Canada.”

As of Monday, there were currently 67 cases of COVID-19 linked to JBS in Brooks.

Phillips is calling for a shut down of the JBS plant as well as the Olymel pork processing plant in Red Deer to help protect workers and their communities from COVID-19 transmission. “We are beyond the point of taking a company’s word for it (that things are safe). We did that at Cargill in High River and we did that in Brooks and that has resulted in one of Canada’s largest outbreaks.”

The Lethbridge West MLA says the local Maple Leaf Foods facility here also needs protective measures put in place like mass testing. “Let’s send the AHS inspectors in. Let’s make sure they’ve got shift change, social distancing, and other protocols in place to protect workers and to protect our city.”