Olymel plant closures will have no effect on Cornwall facility, spokesperson says

Cornwall - olymel

The closure of two Olymel meat processing facilities won’t have an impact on the Olymel plant in Cornwall, according to a company spokesperson.

The company is closing two plants in Quebec and Ontario and accelerating the closure of another facility, affecting around 400 employees as the company says it continues to deal with market challenges.

The company also owns a facility in Cornwall that specializes in fresh sliced bacon and pre-cooked bacon products. Spokesperson Richard Vigneault said Thursday that the closures will have no impact on the Cornwall plant, which employs 564 people.

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“There is no relation whatsoever,” he said.

The meat production and processing company said in a press release that the closures are part of measures to reorganize its business lines and optimize operations at its facilities.

The company is closing a pork boning and packaging plant in Princeville, Que., in November, affecting 301 employees, and is also closing a poultry processing plant in Paris, Ont., affecting another 93 workers.

Olymel says employees affected by closures will have opportunities to transfer to other facilities within the company.

According to Vigneault, employees transferring from the poultry facility in Paris are most likely to relocate to a nearby location in Oakville, rather than Cornwall, due to its proximity.

Olymel has previously made investments to grow its workforce in Cornwall, including hiring 11 workers from Mexico in 2022.

“As we take the initiative of welcoming new foreign workers, we thank them for choosing us and assisting Olymel through these tough times,” Shelly Harding, human resources manager with Olymel Cornwall, told OBJ in December 2022. “We also thank our employees at Olymel who supported, helped and welcomed the foreign workers with so much passion and appreciation.”

Olymel said at that time that it has steadily grown its workforce in Cornwall to meet rising demand for its products. It has stepped up its recruitment efforts and increasingly looked outside of Canada to meet its growing needs, including through a temporary foreign workers project.

In addition to the newly announced closures, Olymel says it’s accelerating the planned closure of its Saint-Simon distribution centre by more than a year to the end of January, affecting 15 employees.

In the wake of the Paris closure, Olymel says its other poultry plants will benefit from an increase in capacity and production.

In particular, it’s refurbishing its Oakville poultry plant to add another production line, spending $8 million and creating 62 new jobs. The Paris and Oakville plants had been running below capacity, and consolidating their operations will generate efficiency and savings, Olymel president and CEO Yanick Gervais said in a press release.

Olymel says it will work with authorities so that the 33 temporary foreign workers at the Princeville plant can also apply for relocation.

“The fresh pork industry is slowly getting back on track after two years of tumult that forced us to reorganize our operations,” said Gervais.

Thursday’s announcement was the latest in what’s been a string of closures and layoffs by Olymel this year.

In May, Olymel announced that around 80 workers at its pig farms in Alberta and Saskatchewan were facing layoffs as it moved to cull six production facilities in the ensuing months.

The decision was due to “continued financial losses and uncertainty in the hog and pork markets for the foreseeable future,” the company said at the time, with losses stemming from limited global market access and high feed costs.

At that time, Olymel had already closed three other facilities in 2023, including two processing plants and one slaughtering facility in Quebec.

With files from The Canadian Press

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