The COVID-19 crisis has had huge impacts over the past months — among them is that it has shone the light on the crucial role Essential Services play in Canada to keep Canadians safe and well. All that would be impossible without the essential workers on the frontline. But did you know that food production is also an essential service? Employees at Maple Leaf Foods are working hard to produce safe, sustainable and quality food for the thousands of Canadians currently self isolating and social distancing.
If you haven’t considered working in an essential industry or service, think again! Maple Leaf Foods and their efforts to support their employees and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic might shed some light on how meaningful the experience can be.
Maple Leaf Foods produces sustainable protein for Canadians nationwide. At the forefront of this are the food production heroes who are working tirelessly to keep up the food supply to our local take-out restaurants, Superstores and refrigerators, especially during the current pandemic.
The company has taken several measures to keep their front line employees, like Steven Tong and Mandhir Kahlon, safe.
Steven shared his experience currently working as a Storekeeper during the pandemic:
“The company has made a great effort to create a safe work environment including social distance policy, masks and face shields implementation, [and] hand wash and sanitizer policy. We have set up COVID-19 teams, and they hold daily conference calls across the whole company to share the best practices to prevent COVID-19.
From [temperature] screening at the entrance to the plant to setting up dividers in cafeteria tables; from adding traffic mirrors at each corner [of the corridor] to marking the line on the floor to keep social distance, from implementing a touchless policy on doors within the building to sanitizing the public space regularly, we have a team to audit every day to work on continuous improvement at each detail. The people feel safe to work on the front line here.”
Maple Leaf Foods has also set up a program to make support available for team members who are prevented from working due to COVID-19 related illness, symptoms or suspension of plant operations, which coordinates with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
The most important measure of all is reminding their team members to NOT come to work when feeling ill or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Their message is: When you take care of yourself, you take care of all of us.
Mandhir Khalon, Production Supervisor, has been working with Maple Leaf Foods for 13 years in various roles. She feels safe with the practices and procedures being implemented to keep her and fellow colleagues safe during COVID-19.
She says, “We [Maple Leaf Foods] are leaders in our field and always do the right thing.”
In fact, Maple Leaf Foods’ commitment to do the right thing goes beyond ensuring their employees’ safety. The company has set a standard for themselves:
- To reduce their carbon footprint by 50% by 2025
- To make real food with real ingredients and without artificial flavours, colors and unnecessary antibiotics
- To become industry leaders in sustainable food production with advances in husbandry, training, transparency, and accountability.
Their commitment to sustainability is why they are known as the World’s First Major Carbon Neutral Company.
Now, during the COVID-19 crisis, Maple Leaf Foods has committed additional efforts to combat the pandemic:
- The company is working with its peers and partners in the public and private sector to coordinate forums for knowledge sharing and expertise to ensure safe operations of supply-chain environments as they provide essential services.
- Maple Leaf Foods will be donating $2.5 million to the Canadian Frontline Healthcare Professionals Protection Fund (CFHPPF) — a fund being established by hospital foundations across the country to provide additional support for front line health care workers. In house, Maple Leaf Foods have shown support and gratitude to their 12 production center nurses who are providing healthcare assistance to current employees who are ill and at home, and screenings for employees at the production centers.
- Maple Leaf Foods has also partnered with the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security (the “Centre”) to support the critical efforts of food security organizations to meet vastly increased demands. In addition, the company has committed to $2.5 million in financial and food contributions to support emergency food relief efforts across Canada.
Maple Leaf Foods’ dedication to their employees and their vision for leadership inspires Mandhir and Steven to be a part of the essential services industry and Maple Leaf Foods. Mandhir describes the company as a great place to work to gain experience with good recognition.
Steven has a final message for students and new graduates:
“It is a great adventure to work in Maple Leaf Foods. You will have an opportunity to meet so many brilliant people, and the company has so many online resources to help you grow as well. It will help you overcome any challenges you face in your daily life.”
If you’re as inspired as we are by these Frontline Heroes, learn more about Maple Leaf Foods and explore opportunities here!