More coronavirus aid for Canadian meat plants may not come for months, officials say

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Tens of millions of federal dollars aimed at helping food processors deal with a rash of COVID-19 outbreaks might not move until the end of September, and there are no details about what the requirements will be to qualify.

The $77.5-million Emergency Processing Fund Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week is intended to help food processors adapt to COVID-19 protocols, including gaining access to more protective equipment for workers.

It is also supposed to help upgrade and reopen shuttered meat facilities that have had to close after becoming infected by COVID-19.

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On Sunday another Cargill meat-processing plant south of Montreal announced it will temporarily close its doors after at least 64 workers tested positive.

That is the second temporary closure of a Cargill plant in recent weeks. One in High River, Alta., closed after about 350 cases of the novel coronavirus were linked to it. The number eventually rose to 1,500, including nearly half the plant’s 2,000 workers. The plant has since re-opened.

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Workers in meat-packing plants often work shoulder to shoulder slaughtering and butchering animals for food. Many of them also share living quarters and transportation to and from work.

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