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Olymel to close Quebec pork plant, nearly 1,000 people to lose their jobs

olymel to close quebec pork plant nearly 1000 people to lose their jobs

Olymel will close its factory in Vallée-Jonction, Que., a move that will leave 994 workers without a job. 

The factory, a slaughterhouse and meat processing plant 70 kilometres south of Quebec City, is one of four run by the company in Quebec.

Yanick Gervais, the company’s CEO and president, described the closing of a new plant as “inevitable,” after what he called a difficult past two years for the company.

“The pandemic, the labour shortage, the rise of costs related to inflation, not to mention the closure of the Chinese market have really affected the fresh pork industry,” said Gervais.

The decision to close the Vallée-Jonction plant was based on considerations about its operational capacity, he said, blaming the labour shortage in the area and the state of the plant’s infrastructure.

Of the 994 people affected by the closure,  911 are union members and 83 are executives. The plant also employs 122 temporary foreign workers.

The plant will be closed over an eight-month period ending next December. 

The company said will be inviting workers who have lost their jobs to relocate to other plants in the province. “It will be difficult for people here,” said Martin Bédard, a worker who stood in front of the factory. “Aside from here, what place is there to work at?”

A spokesperson for the Quebec pig farmers’ association said they could not comment on the closure until it had been announced by officials. 

“We do want to be very clear on one thing though,” the spokesperson said in an email. “No farmer will be left behind. The priority of the organization is to ensure that there is minimal impact on their daily lives, and we will support those most affected.”

The mayor of Vallée-Jonction, Patricia Drouin, will hold a press briefing around 11:30 a.m. along with other elected officials.

Olymel is a producer of pork and poultry products based in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que. In 2021, a strike paralyzed the Vallée-Jonction factory for about four months.

In February, Olymel also announced the closure of its pork processing plants in Blainville and Laval. In November, it announced the closure of a factory in Saint-Hyacinthe.

The other Olymel plants in the province are located in Yamachiche in the Mauricie region, Ange-Gardien in Montérégie and Saint-Esprit in Lanaudière.

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