The governments of Canada and Ontario are expanding Ontario’s meat processing sector by investing $127,000 to support a research initiative by Meat and Poultry Ontario (MPO). The project will identify opportunities to increase meat processing capacity in order to address a growing demand for abattoir services across the province.

“Despite challenges caused by COVID-19, the hardworking women and men in Canada’s meat and poultry processing sector have stepped up to deliver their quality products to Canadian kitchen tables,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

“Ontario’s meat processing sector is an important contributor to Ontario’s economy,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, during an address to the annual general meeting of the Beef Farmers of Ontario.

The demand for processing facilities in Ontario, especially in the North, continues to grow. In response, MPO has begun researching a strategy that pairs skills development with innovative technologies to increase efficiency and capacity across the sector. This work builds on three additional federal-provincial funding programs introduced over the last year to deal with more urgent challenges:

  • $2 million for food safety initiatives
  • $2.25 million for provincial meat plants to make workplace modifications to increase worker health and safety during COVID
  • $4 million for rapid measures to increase capacity

“This funding will ensure a stable meat supply and keep high-quality and affordable Canadian meat products on our grocery store shelves and kitchen tables,” said Neil Ellis, Parliamentary Secretary to the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

“The pandemic has highlighted some of the vulnerabilities in the meat & poultry sector, one of them being the need to increase processing capacity,” says Carol Goriup, President of Meat & Poultry Ontario. “This study is the first step in identifying opportunities and possible solutions for the future growth of our sector.  We would like to thank the federal and provincial governments for their timely funding of this project.”

Provincial abattoirs and provincially licensed processors have been consulted to understand the current state of their operations, the potential for growth and the technology requirements to support that growth. MPO will also work with farmers to understand both current and future needs for processing and packaging and how their needs differ based on where they are in the province. The data will be collected and analyzed for the creation of a potential centralized reservation system of processing that could be developed in the future.

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed cost-share support for more than 4,400 projects through the Partnership to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.