STE-ANNE-DES-PLAINES, QUEBEC — As part of Canada's economic action plan, the Canadian government will be investing in Canada's red-meat sector through a loan of up to C$2.7 million ($2.5 million) to assist Écolait, a Quebec firm specialized in the slaughter and processing of milk-fed veal calves.

The announcement was made by Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture).

Thanks to this federal support, Écolait will be able to improve its storage capacity and upgrade its slaughterhouse plant technology. It processes more than 100,000 head of veal in its facilities annually, raised by more than 150 of its producer partners. With 50% of its products exported, the company plays a major role in expanding market access for Canada's producers.

This federal investment will also help the company to achieve major savings, which will help to increase the profitability of its plant and that of its partners.

"In this current global economy, Canada must be able to rely on a strong and profitable red-meat industry," Minister Blackburn said. "This investment will help Écolait cut its costs considerably and improve its operations, which by extension, will help Quebec producers capture new domestic and international markets."

Écolait has made several major acquisitions since starting operations in 1979, and it employs a staff of 350 people. The company currently holds market shares of 61% in Quebec and 68% in Canada.

The Slaughter Improvement Program, with a budget of $50 million (US$47 million), makes federal repayable contributions available to support sound business plans aimed at reducing the costs, increasing the revenues and improving the operations of meat packing and processing operations in Canada. This is the second project announced in Quebec under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Slaughter Improvement Program.

With more than C$20 billion ($19 billion) in sales, the red-meat industry is the single-largest food-industry employer in Canada.

Go to for more information about this program.