BORDEN-CARLETON — It began as a trickle — people with their arms filled with personal items, leaving the McCain Foods processing plant in Borden-Carleton for the last time Wednesday — and soon it turned into a mass exodus.
In August, workers found out that the New Brunswick-based company would be shutting down its P.E.I. operation on Friday, Oct. 31.
For many it was the end of a long association with McCain Foods, and the mood of many of those leaving was sullen.
Several did not want to talk about their final hours on the job, simply saying, “I’ve got nothing to say,” or just turning away, getting into their vehicles and driving
Kirk Haddock was among those moving on, and he had his own observations about the closure and the future.
“I’ve been here just over two and a half years,” he said. “I’m leaving with mixed emotions.”
An estimated 121 people will be out of work come Friday and that doesn’t include the spinoff effect the plant’s closure will have on other local businesses who supplied services and raw product to McCain Foods and others who benefited from employee spending in their communities.
Despite that, Haddock said it wasn’t all doom and gloom Wednesday.
“Surprisingly, the mood around the plant has been pretty positive,” he said. “A little bit of tears in there today. It’s emotional for a lot of those who have been here a long time. It’s a good group of people.”
Haddock is moving on and will be joining the Irving-owned Master Packaging in neighbouring Borden-Carleton.
One worker, who didn’t want to be identified, said she intends to take advantage of the benefits and retraining offered by the company.
Another employee wasn’t certain what he would be doing but did say he is going to be weighing all the options open to him and that he “will be moving on.”
“What else can you do?” he added.
McCain is offering its employees severance packages, retirement benefits and retraining options.