As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Canada continues to increase, and as news is rapidly changing, we want you to know that your co-operative continues to operate in the best interests of all of our members and customers. We recognize our members, customers and employees are all deeply concerned with the events unfolding before us and wish to express our thanks to our healthcare workers and leaders for their efforts in dealing with this virus. The United Farmers of Alberta response to this outbreak of COVID-19 to protect the health of our employees, members, customers and all the communities that we serve follows:
Farm & Ranch Stores, Fertilizer Plants, Petroleum Agencies
As part of our normal practice, all of our stores, agencies and facilities are cleaned regularly. In response to COVID-19, we are increasing the frequency of our cleaning in order to maintain a healthy environment, including regular disinfecting of high-touch and high-traffic areas such as our checkout counters, point of sale machines, door handles, etc.
As you might expect, we are seeing an increased demand for certain products, including cleaning supplies, face masks and other products, and we are reserving the right to limit quantities of product so that supply of such products can be available to all of our members and customers. We are also working to replenish such products quickly.
On Friday March 13, 2020, we temporarily closed our Taber Farm & Ranch store out of an abundance of caution when two of our employees reported flu-like symptoms. We are cleaning the store and will reopen on Monday, March 16, 2020. We have since confirmed that both of the employees were not suffering from COVID-19.
Going forward, we have measures in place to keep our stores, fertilizer plants and agencies generally open for business, and to only close in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Calgary Support Office
Our landlord has informed us of a suspected case within the building where our Calgary Support Office is located. As this individual had access to common areas shared with UFA, we have temporarily closed CSO and are conducting a cleaning of the common areas. The office will reopen on Wednesday morning. In order to continue with our business operations, all employees with laptops and remote access will be working from home with a few critical positions remaining on site.
Based on recently issued guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada regarding large gatherings, UFA made the decision to postpone the Annual General Meeting scheduled to be held on Friday, March 13, 2020.
Recognizing that important business is conducted during the meeting, including the declaration of patronage, the Board of Directors is planning to call a special meeting of the Assembly on or around March 24 to review the financial results of UFA and consider a patronage return. This will ensure our members receive their patronage returns in the season in which they are expected.
The Annual General Meeting is set to be rescheduled later in the year, at which time the Director Election will occur and additional business conducted.
UFA is reviewing all additional events scheduled at our locations in the upcoming weeks and will advise of any cancellations in advance. Our priority is to protect the health and safety of our members, customers and team.
A global travel advisory is in effect until further notice and all non essential travel outside Canada is to be avoided. At this time, UFA is also restricting all non-essential work travel beyond UFA’s trade area (primarily Alberta).
The physical and mental health of our employees is paramount to UFA. As is our standard policy, all employees are encouraged to stay home if they are not feeling well.
To help employees manage during this time, we have provided resources and tools including daily updates with information on the spread of COVID-19, the proper preventative measures to take, the symptoms of the virus and clear instructions on the process to follow if they believe they may have been exposed to the virus. To support their emotional well-being, additional resources and assistance has been provided through our Employee Assistance provider.
In accordance with the changes to the Alberta employment standards, UFA will provide employees with 14 days of paid, job-protected leave if an employee is required to self-isolate, is sick or caring for a loved one with COVID-19, without the requirement of a medical note. UFA’s standard leave policies apply for any additional time required.
We want to assure our members and customers that UFA recognizes the important role you play in Canada’s agricultural and energy sectors. We are committed to maintaining safe, reliable operations during the outbreak to ensure you are able to access the products and services you require. To receive information on offers, events and UFA announcements, please sign up for UFA emails. We look forward to serving you and welcome you to contact us with any questions at 1-877-258-4500.