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Cermaq Canada continues to adapt operations amid Covid-19 pandemic while supporting employees and local communities

As governments, communities and Canadians continue to modify behaviors and activities based on recommendations and guidelines provides by federal and provincial health agencies, Cermaq Canada is no different.

“As an organization, we began to address the Covid-19 pandemic on March 2, 2020, through changes to our policies and procedures. These changes are in support of recommendations made by federal and provincial governments and health authorities, and are intended to further protect our employees and support their ongoing health and wellbeing. We will continue to monitor and make changes as required to ensure the safety of our employees, our contractors and suppliers and the community,” says David Kiemele, Managing Director, Cermaq Canada. “I would also like to specifically acknowledge and thank our employees for their ongoing dedication and commitment during these difficult, and for many, stressful times.”

On March 26, the British Colombia provincial government recognized food producers as an essential service during this pandemic, and Cermaq is taking this responsibility seriously. In additional to continuing to operate and support employees and families, Cermaq is also looking to support local communities, businesses and first responders.

“We know that Canadians are counting on food producers to continue to supply healthy, nutritious and sustainable food for their families. We also know that communities are relying on companies such as ours for continued economic support,” says Linda Sams, Sustainable Development Director, Cermaq Canada. “On the west coast of Vancouver Island we have been working closely with the Ahousaht First Nation who are our friends, neighbors and colleagues. We have many employees from the Nation, and we are in constant communication with, and taking direction from, the Nation’s leadership to ensure we are supporting overall community health.”

Cermaq is continuing to support local businesses by providing catered breakfast and lunch for processing employees in Tofino. This program supports the federal and provincial social distancing directive by ensuring our employees can remain onsite during work hours. This also allows for ongoing economic opportunities for local business by providing individually packaged meals to be eaten in our facilities within proper social distancing protocols.

In Campbell River, Cermaq was able to supply much needed ingredients required by a local distillery in order for them to switch to the production of hand sanitizer. The resulting hand sanitizer will be provided free of charge to local first responders and essential workers.

These are all examples of shared value and are core to Cermaq’s operations and beliefs.


In Nova Scotia, Cermaq Canada has received notification from the Province of Nova Scotia’s Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture that in recognition of these extraordinary circumstances and the impact it has on the ability to carry out feasibility and engagement work, they have temporarily suspended the Option to Lease expiry period until further notice.

“Right now, Canadians, and countries around the globe are focused – and rightfully so – on the current Covid-19 pandemic and taking the required precautionary steps. With the challenges and stressors facing Canadians right now, this is not the time to move something forward that requires additional conversation, engagement and input,” added Sams.

Aside from these overarching activities and changes, some of the more detailed changes include, but are not limited to:

– The addition of additional water taxis and company boats used to deliver employees to our ocean sites has resulted in an increase of more than double (an increase of 120%) trips, decreasing the number of employees on the vessel per trip by 70%. This is in line with the required two metres of personal space.

– Vessel runs have been changed to ensure that each run is only attending one farms site per trip, rather than dropping off employees at multiple farm sites. This also helps to ensure the isolation of our farm employees.

– Between the drop off and pick up of new crews, the boat is sterilized and all employees must wash their hands before boarding the vessel.

– In regards to bus transport, Cermaq has doubled the number of vehicles being used (increase of 100%), and thereby reducing the number of employees per vehicle by 50%, again in support of the required two metres of social distancing.

– Similar to the boat transportation, between the drop off and pick up of new crews, busses are sterilized and all employees must wash their hands before boarding the vehicle.

– For our sea sites, Cermaq has adopted a new “all in, all out” shift change where a crew is kept intact, and all employees are removed, before the next crew comes to site. This reduces the chance of exposure between shifts.

– In general day-to-day operations, changes have been made which allow for employees to maintain a two-metre distance during activities.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Cermaq Canada will continue to evolve and ensure we are providing employees, partners and local government with regular information updates, including how to access available resources, internal supports, changes to operations and additional information sources. We are also gearing up to provide more support to local food banks and social support organization as the isolation and shut down period extends into the summer months.

Cermaq Canada is located on the west coast of Canada with up to 300 employees. Cermaq has 25 salmon farm licences and operates four hatcheries across northern Vancouver Island. Cermaq believes in supporting the communities in which we live and work and invests over $1 million annually through sponsorship, community investment, in-kind and other support.

– submitted article

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