ST. HYACINTHE, QUEBEC – A group of more than 800 Olymel employees from Quebec slaughterhouses and cut plants in Yamachiche, St. Esprit and Ange-Gardien worked extra shifts on May 30 to reduce the growing inventory of hogs ready for slaughter and avoid euthanization. Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the number of hogs ready for slaughter has never been so high, ranging into the 100,000 head mark. US slaughter facility closures added to the strain by eliminating the company’s ability to deliver surplus hogs to high-capacity American plants.

Olymel faced struggles gathering the number of employees necessary to staff additional shifts due to absences related to either confirmed COVID-19 cases, preventive isolation of other employees, suspension of inter-regional transport or closure of schools while the pandemic peaked. After slowdowns and interruptions, Olymel’s hog slaughtering and cutting plants in Quebec have now regained more than 95% of their slaughtering capacity.

Additional employees from the St. Hyacinthe, Agromex’s St. Jean sur Richelieu and Sherrington plants contributed to the effort through packaging and storage activities while also contributing to the philanthropic aspect.

Olymel’s management, volunteer employees, and their union representatives, also aimed to further the May 30 efforts to include fundraising to help underprivileged people and the organizations that support them. The day had two philanthropic components:

  • Two dollars for each hog slaughtered donated to a charitable organization or cause chosen by the employees of each of the three establishments, up to a maximum of $5,000;
  • In cooperation with les Cuisines solidaires of La Tablée des Chefs, Olymel provided food to prepare three meals for each employee present during the additional slaughter day, which represents the equivalent of more than 2,000 meals to be delivered to Moisson Mauricie Centre du Québec for the Yamachiche plant, to Moisson Lanaudière for the St. Esprit plant and to S.O.S. Dépannage Moisson Granby for the Ange Gardien facility.

“Thanks to the precautions and health measures rigorously implemented in all our facilities, Olymel is now able to find solutions to the backlog of hogs ready for slaughter,” said Réjean Nadeau, president and chief executive officer of Olymel. “Adding extra shifts would be impossible without the cooperation of our employees and their union representatives. I therefore commend the commitment of the CSD union at our Ange Gardien plant in Montérégie, as well as that of the United Food and Commercial Workers, TUAC-Local 1991-P, at our plants in St. Esprit (Lanaudière) and Yamachiche (Mauricie). I am grateful that they not only agreed to add hours to their workload after already very busy weeks, but also that they have combined this exceptional effort with helping Les Moissons du Québec, families and people in need at a time when mutual assistance is as essential as the activities of the food supply chain.”