by Morinville News Staff
With 620 cases of COVID-19 linked to the Cargill meat processing plant in High River and the JBS plant in Brooks, the NDP Official Opposition is demanding Premier Jason Kenney to commit to the launch a public inquiry into the handling of COVID-19 outbreaks at the plants.
Public inquiries are arms-length and independent inquiries into a matter of public concern created under Alberta’s Public Inquiries Act and are launched by Cabinet into matters within the legislature’s jurisdiction.
As of Thursday’s daily COVID-19 update, 480 COVID-19 cases were associated with Cargill and 124 were connected to the JBS plant.
The NDP says workers at the Cargill plant had been raising concerns about the tight-quarters, lack of personal protection equipment and other issues for about two weeks. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) called for the plant as well as BS plant and an Olymel plant in Red Deer until worker safety can be assured, something the NDP says went unheard by the government.
“We believe the Premier and the Government Cabinet failed to act at Cargill and also appear resistant to meaningful action at the JBS plant,” said NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray. “Now, we have significant community spread in two Alberta communities and at least one worker has died.
“This Government has lost the trust of the public. The only way we can truly learn from these tragedies and hold the Government to account on these serious matters is through the launch of a full public inquiry.”
Gray went on to say the Premier continues to claim that the outbreaks at Cargill and JBS have been handled properly.
“If that’s true, he should be fully willing to launch a public inquiry to determine the facts. If he won’t, then what is the Premier hiding?” Gray said.