McCain Foods closing Borden-Carleton french fry plant

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'There's a lot of people in shock': John Bryant

McCain Foods plant in Borden-Carleton.

McCain Foods employees say they are in shock after hearing this morning the Borden-Carleton french fry plant will close Oct. 31.

The plant employs 121 people.

John Bryant, 43 of 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,” said Bryant 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.”

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.

Organizations: McCain Foods

Geographic location: Borden-Carleton, Borden-Carletown

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Recent comments

  • Charlie Giggie
    August 08, 2014 - 20:33

    boys i think harison and walace mc Cain would row over in there grave if they could see what has become of thier bussness that they started years ago and made alot of work for people for many years and keep it runing well every day at that its a shame the younger kids couldnt do the same as there dads has done but i guess they are just in it for the money i mean look at the maple leaf plant that walace bought and run for years and after he passed away they sold the plant i think the boys are just in it for all the money how would they feel if they were in all the people who depened on there jobs at mc Cains and then was told no more work for them bet they would be pissed to if they dont have interest in runing any plant stept down and let another family member that wants to keep the mc Cain name alive its a shame to see how one person cant screw the mc Cains name up

  • William
    August 08, 2014 - 16:31

    Diversify!!!!!!!!! This Island needs many more kinds of industries. To do this there has to be training in many more manufacturing trades so that the Island can be a useful province in the future. Plane and simple. So that the potato giants can't dictate and bully governments and farmers.

  • We Are Islanders
    August 08, 2014 - 06:20

    We'll get over it and move on. This might be the kick in the pants that's needed to start getting out of our dependency on potatoes. At least they announced it on a weekday. Sleazy companies wait until late on a Friday to announce.

  • It is not an attempt...
    August 07, 2014 - 20:27

    I don't think it is an attempt at all for government funds, but a result of modern day living. This plant is old, we live in a high priced province, my guess is Plant 1 Cavendish will follow suit in the next year or two as well.....very unfortunate, but high energy prices can be compensated by a low dollar, which we haven't had in years!

  • Elsa Rose Bryant
    August 07, 2014 - 19:39

    the reasons given for closing this plant do not seem to be valid to the extent of closing a plant that is a main area employer - I think that the Provincial Government should step in and see if some other solution could be arranged

    • An Islander
      August 07, 2014 - 20:42

      What position did you have? Really the economics of the plant is what is causing it to close, it is an old plant, in dire need of updates, reliant on a lot manpower unlike robotics like some of their new plants, mix in the moratorium on deep water wells to deliver quality potatoes like competitive markets, and then toss in that they have to pay to truck in quality potatoes to make up for it, it makes %100 sense to me why it is closing, I expect Plant 1 Cavendish to close soon as well, when you are patching a patch for the 3rd or 4th time on a dated fryer, you have to question the longevity of the plant! It is at the point of needing a major overhaul(which the current market plays against), or ride it out as long as you can while turning something of a profit and then scrap it and hope no one gets hurt! My guess is Plant one goes down in the next year or two, Plant 2 upgrades and maybe expands a little, but does not hire all what plant one lays-off, it is much more efficient of a plant, for the most part!

  • Ohboy
    August 07, 2014 - 18:15

    Wow, no ones blaming Harper?

  • MFH
    August 07, 2014 - 16:48

    It is a sad day in the P.E.I labour market especially when you consider that our provincial government's job creation stategy consists of telling people to go out west. I'm afraid that it is only going to get worse here.

  • old spud
    August 07, 2014 - 16:31

    To me me this is ploy to get federal dollars to keep this grate facility open . At least they did it with CLASS i DON,T THINK irving WOULD DO IT THAT WAY . tHEY NOW WILL HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF GETTING deep wells

    • Brainless
      August 07, 2014 - 18:32

      Care to take another try and explain what you are rambling about?

    • therod
      August 08, 2014 - 07:37

      It was cavendish fighting for the deep wells...

  • Garth Staples
    August 07, 2014 - 15:59

    So the finger pointing will begin. I hope it is pointed in the proper direction. I trust the employees will keep their cool and while sacrifices will be great for awhile go where the jobs are for the sake of their families.

  • The Bright Side
    August 07, 2014 - 15:53

    Perhaps some of our farmers will try organic farming now. Wouldn't that be a blessing. Change can be a good thing. As for the plant workers, I feel bad for them but they too can embrace the change and make it a good thing. Opportunities will come knocking if they stay positive.

    • Loonies
      August 07, 2014 - 18:35

      Sad that some people revel in the loss of hundreds of jobs so they can further their agenda. Organic farming is a joke and the sheep that preach it are the punchline.

    • to loonues
      August 07, 2014 - 20:34

      "Organic farming is a joke"?? It's only been going on for about 10,000 years......

    • therod
      August 08, 2014 - 07:45

      They only had a share of 4% of the potato market and those farmers will have no issue finding market for thier spuds. Unfortunately it will not be a push to move towards organic.

    • therod
      August 08, 2014 - 08:15

      They only had a share of 4% of the potato market and those farmers will have no issue finding market for thier spuds. Unfortunately it will not be a push to move towards organic.

  • enough already
    August 07, 2014 - 15:26

    Whats the big deal? No one seemed to mind when the Pepsi plant which was profitable close. People were only concerned about saving a few cents on sugared water. How about the pork plant , Ghiz let that shut down and left the employees out in the cold ,now it is a garbage dump.

    • huh
      August 07, 2014 - 17:54

      You referring to the same pork plant that had years of struggles, bailouts, and loans and lost millions? As for the Pepsi plant, job losses were a fraction of what McCains could be. I love how people's memories conveniently are shaped to whatever point they are trying to make.

  • Sad Day
    August 07, 2014 - 14:42

    I hope that when the Irvings leave, they'll do so with as much class as the McCains.

  • Curious
    August 07, 2014 - 12:06

    Let me start off by saying, I am from Charlottetown and my sympathy is with all those effected by the closure. But it will be interesting to see where the $2 million contribution will end up. I highly doubt it will be reinvested in the local (Borden) economy. If the province has anything to do with it, it will be spent on creating or moving jobs to Charlottetown. For some reason or another people don't recognize the viability of jobs in the Borden area. It should be the prime location for any company importing or exporting goods to or from PEI. More than just being a central location for ALL major maritime cities, its' tax rates are some of the lowest in the country, the town has all utilities available, including a maritime electric generating station, immediate access to the Bridge (no time or money wasted having trucks and drivers sitting waiting during wind restrictions), as well as, due to its central location there is an almost infinite supply of potential workers. I implore anyone to take a drive through the town any day and witness first hand the potential of this small town. Or perhaps, the amount of trucks that are stopped in parking lots sorting and separating goods to be hauled off in all different directions before heading east to the capital. This town should be bustling with jobs, but between the city of Charlottetown and province doing their parts to restrict rural development, they observe what every other town in this province does; that being just traffic passing through.

    • huh
      August 07, 2014 - 17:46

      I would love to hear what powers the city of Charlottetown has when it comes to stifling rural development.

    • Fed up
      August 07, 2014 - 21:48

      Where have YOU been burying your head?? Jobs all in Charlottetown?? Are you not aware that Ghiz has hundreds of people driving to Montague, Souris, Summerside...and even Tignish! He has been sending provincial government workers miles away from Charlottetown....granted to buy votes...which didn't work, at least in Tignish...but people are driving miles and miles to work every day! Maybe he should send YOU to Borden so you can drive there day after day...in winter storms....(or perhaps...as we all suspect....YOU live in BORDEN ?!?!? You seem to know a lot about the Town...)

  • paul
    August 07, 2014 - 11:25

    only gotten bad the last 5 . 15 years ago it was booming and the dollar was 75 cents to the US . Big blow to a lot of good people . Sad day

  • Cynic
    August 07, 2014 - 11:17

    Oh boy, we can have another festival or maybe a mini plan B.

  • Silver Lining
    August 07, 2014 - 11:15

    On the bright side lobster stocks will improve here once the fresh water affluent from the plant stops flowing to the Strait.

  • Dick
    August 07, 2014 - 11:05

    It's gonna be a cold one on Pogey Beach

  • The Bright Side
    August 07, 2014 - 11:05

    Perhaps some of our farmers will try organic farming now. Wouldn't that be a blessing. Change can be a good thing. As for the plant workers, I feel bad for them but they too can embrace the change and make it a good thing. Opportunities will come knocking if they stay positive.

    • Dundas Sue
      August 07, 2014 - 18:13

      Sharon Labchuck had the audacity to say this is a good thing. Have a little sympathy for those affected the most - for a few days at least. Sure some will try organic farming but its not for everyone.

  • wog
    August 07, 2014 - 10:51

    The plant has been in decline, but its still a big blow and a shock to the people who work there. Props to McCain's for (apparently) offering better then average packages and assistance for their employees. That's the right to do it.

  • James
    August 07, 2014 - 10:24

    Wow, sad loss :(

  • no surprise
    August 07, 2014 - 10:18

    This has been coming for over 15 years. Not a surprise.