Ontario Food Terminal
1. Does OFTB have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection among its employees? If so, how many and when were they detected? Have other employees been quarantined as a result of contact and what actions have been taken to protect current workers? What impact has this had or do you expect it to have on OFTB operations?
The OFT is an essential operation in Ontario’s food supply. The OFTB recognizes that the pandemic is a very serious issue and has responded accordingly. With input and support from all stakeholders, the OFTB developed a COVID-19 response plan. The plan follows public health best practices to protect everyone who does business at the OFT including all the OFTB’s valued employees. We deeply appreciate their reporting for work and their strictly following best practices to ensure their safety.
In response to your explicit question, no employees of the OFTB are known to have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time. Individual warehouse tenants are responsible for communicating information with respect to their operations. The OFT has protocols in place which set out their reporting obligations and appropriate mitigation and response actions.
2. I've seen the notices on your website about on-site safety protocols as of March 25. Are you contemplating further changes as this pandemic worsens? And what are the impacts to OFTB's ongoing operations of existing and proposed protocols, if any?
The OFTB has a stakeholder crisis response team that meets regularly, both to be proactive in implementing best practices, and to be informed about any developments among those who use the OFT.
When changes are made, they are communicated to all the parties affected by them.
At the present time, the OFT is phasing in temperature-checking in addition to the following protocols in place:
(i) The terminal is not open to the public, and each employee, tenants or their employees, drivers and buyers are asked a series of screening questions upon entry
(ii) Dividing the OFT into zones to provide additional distancing measures
(iii) Buyers stay at their truck, minimizing movement around the terminal grounds
(iv) Each warehouse has designated separate ‘runners’ who do not enter the store and who deliver to the buyers' truck
(v) Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing processes have been implemented and continue to be in place
3. Are you observing any changes in flow of produce from the U.S. or from Mexico (which declared a state of emergency on Monday, March 30)? Volumes up or down? Are any commodities in short supply?
Supply variances with respect to produce are best addressed by the Toronto Wholesale Produce Association (TWPA). TWPA members have access to volume and commodity specific data. The OFT is experiencing fewer buyers at the market. This reduction is at least partly due to the closure of many food service establishments such as restaurants.
Ample supplies of the staple fruits and vegetables are available at the Ontario Food Terminal. There was a surge in buying in mid-March and the volume of purchases was higher than normal. The following two weeks demand has dropped. Specialty items that require air shipments are the only items currently experiencing shortages. There is marked reduction in availability of air cargo space due to lack of international flights. No major changes in volumes available from the US or Mexico have been experienced at this time.
4. What are the pinch points in the supply chain now, specifically with respect to truckers? - health status, adherence to OFTB COVID protocols, availability to work, availability of support services en route? (I.e no rest stops, restaurants open)
The OFTB is appreciative of the way in which the trucking industry is supporting the supply chain during this challenging time. The trucking industry would be best positioned to speak further on specific experiences related to the movement of produce.
Source: Ontario Food Terminal Board April 3, 2020 statement to The Grower