Lethbridge company claiming it shouldn’t be on COVID-19 outbreak list

LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. — A Lethbridge manufacturing company said it shouldn’t be on Alberta’s COVID-19 outbreak list, because the number of cases at its plant doesn’t meet the definition set by AHS.

Southland Trailers said it appreciates the work of Alberta Health Services and the efforts they are taking to protect the health of hard working Albertans and their families. However, the company said it “strongly disagrees” with the information declaring Southland Trailer as a business with an active outbreak at a time when they are recruiting for 50 newly created positions.

According to Alberta Health there were 14 cases linked to an outbreak at Southland Trailers on April 8, including four that were active and 10 that have recovered.

A statement provided by the company said “We, like many companies, have had cases of COVID-19 in our businesses, however; at this time, we have no active cases in the company and have not had enough cases to be declared an outbreak by the definition set by AHS.”

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The Lethbridge-based company builds a variety of trailers for the agriculture and landscaping industries. A spokesperson said Southland Trailers currently employs 305 people, including welders, electricians, plumbers and labourers. That is an increase from about 170 employees just over a year ago.

The company said it’s still trying to find workers to keep up with an increase in manufacturing sales.

“At this time, we are a rapidly growing company in need of skilled trades people and general labour wanting to work,” said the statement.

Tom McMillan, Assistant Director of Communications for Alberta Health, said the data provided by health officials has been confirmed.

In an e-mail response, he said Alberta Health reports all cases that the public health officials have linked to a particular outbreak as the source of exposure.

“While we work closely with businesses, due to patient confidentiality there may be linked cases that they are not aware of.”

Southland maintains it has only had about 13 employees with COVID-19 since the pandemic started over a year ago, and has never had more than three active cases at any one time.

“We have worked hard to limit the spread within the company and will continue to work with our employees, management, AHS, and OHS to prevent further spread of COVID-19 within our company and the community.”

Southland said they have raised their concerns with contact tracers, and were surprised to discover they had been included on the outbreak list.

Management said they have since tried to contact AHS but their calls are not returned, and they have not been able to speak to anyone directly.

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