May 5th, 2020
Federal government fails to ensure workers' safety at Alberta meat-packing plants
In today's virtual parliament sitting, NDP MP Heather McPherson (Edmonton Strathcona) raised serious concerns regarding workers' safety at several Alberta meat-packing plants amid COVID-19.
"Workers are afraid for their safety," said McPherson. "The Minister of Finance said that if workers don't feel comfortable in their work and if they decide to stay home, they can apply for the CERB. But the government's website says differently, and we know workers in this situation across the country were rejected. The government needs to sort this out. This is a matter of life and death."
In Alberta, meat-packing plants are directly responsible for nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 cases. Despite the reported deaths due to COVID-19 in the last days, employees were forced back to work – even though their concerns for their safety and well being have not been addressed. While dodging repeated questions by McPherson, the government refused to accept responsibility for this tragedy and continued to reject proposals to increase safety and help protect workers.
"The government and the plant's management ignored the pleas of workers and did not put effective safety protocols into place to deal with COVID-19. People should not be forced to return to an unsafe workplace," said McPherson. "Far from holding the company to account, the government has continued to endorse the corporation's billionaire owners' ability to avoid paying all their taxes in Canada by transferring profits through holding companies based in the tax haven of Luxembourg."