The provincial election call last week has increased uncertainties for BC abattoir operators, who have seen demand for local meats surge versus last year as a result of COVID-19.
An extension of the feedback window on a rural slaughter modernization intentions paper the province released a week before the election call makes sense to Nova Woodbury, executive director of the BC Association of Abattoirs, but does nothing to resolve the issues producers face.
“Sure it makes sense – in case they don’t get back in power and the Liberals erase the whole thing,” says Woodbury.
The deadline was quietly extended to November 16 from the initial deadline of October 19, despite strong activity among her members.
The most recent federal statistics on government-inspected plants indicate that demand increased steadily after COVID-19 struck, with BC plants processing 42% more animals that month than a year earlier.
“That’s simply not sustainable,” she says, adding that this increase has taken place without hiring new staff or any government support. “The industry has stepped up to meet the demand, but they can’t continue to do this. I am hearing stories of burnout and the risk for an injury skyrockets when people are working at this kind of pace.”
The issue is province-wide, notes Woodbury, it’s not just limited tot rural areas.
Regardless of what the next government does, Woodbury hopes it will invest in the industry.
“Increased inspections will cost more money,” she says. “We need money to train new workers for the industry and to support plants to expand capacity to meet the needs.”