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McCain Foods plant in Borden-Carleton
McCain Foods employees say they are in shock after hearing Aug. 7 the Borden-Carleton french fry plant will close Oct. 31.
The plant employs 121 people.
John Bryant, Summerside, has been a chemical technician at the facility for 10 years.
“There’s a lot of people in shock – really in shock that it’s happening,” the 43-year-old said yesterday as he was leaving the plant.
“Everyone is leaving pretty depressed. Some people got to start over that have been here for 20 or 30 years, so I mean what are they going to do, where are they going to go from here?”
McCain Foods broke the news to staff first thing this morning and sent a news release a short time later. It cites as reasons for shutting down the shift in the demand for french fries from North America to other regions, the strong Canadian dollar and increased efficiency at other facilities.
"Production at the P.E.I. plant has declined by two-thirds over the last decade and the plant is now the smallest and least utilized facility in McCain’s North American network," states the news release.
“Closing a plant is one of the toughest decisions we ever face,” said Frank van Schaayk, president-Americas for McCain Foods. “We deeply regret the personal impact the closure will have on our P.E.I. employees and we are committed to providing support and resources to those affected.”
Everyone is leaving pretty depressed. Some people got to start over that have been here for 20 or 30 years, so I mean what are they going to do, where are they going to go from here? McCain employee John Bryant
The company is offering affected employees early retirement benefits, severance packages that exceed regulatory requirements as well as retraining options.
It is also contributing $2 million to the provincial government to help the community deal with the loss of a major employer.
“The closure of a facility like this can have real impacts on the local economy and we will contribute up to $2 million and work with the provincial government to identify economic development initiatives to create sustainable alternate employment for our affected employees and the Borden-Carleton community,” said van Schaayk.
T.J. Foley worked an all-night shift Wednesday only to find out through Facebook that he was out of a job.
“It’s pretty grim. A lot of discouraged people, a lot of disappointed people for sure. But it is what it is,” he said.
Foley, who helped run the plant’s fryer for the past five years, said he’s trying to keep an upbeat attitude about the situation, but he feels bad for his co-workers.
“There’s a lot of people who worked their asses off here every day only to get a slap in the face. But I guess that’s typical of this type of big company nowadays,” he said.