Cheese-maker Saputo is closing plants in Ottawa, Sydney, N.S., and Princeville, Que., with the loss of 230 jobs, the Montreal-based company announced today.
Production from the closed facilities will be moved to other plants. Saputo operates 25 dairy operations across Canada.
Saputo said the 230 employees affected will receive severance and outplacement support.
The first to close, in June, is the Sydney plant, followed by the Princeville plant in August. The Ottawa dairy, with 126 employees, will close in December 2017.
The Ottawa plant was purchased from Neilson in 2008.
The Sydney plant was formerly owned by Scotsburn, which sold its dairy operations to Saputo in 2014.
Kevin Perfect, a tractor-trailer driver and vice-president for Unifor Local 198 at the Sydney plant, said the factory's employees were called to a meeting with senior executives of Saputo today to be told the plant would shut on June 30.
He said more than 100 workers are affected there, though another 10 drivers lost their jobs when the company outsourced transport jobs in the past four months.
'It was just dropped on us'
"There's a lot of heads hung low, that's basically it," he said. "It's hard to find a job in Sydney, plus making decent wages."
Employees were told that the plant, which produces milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and ice-cream mix, had to close as it's not making enough money.
"Nobody knows what they're going to do right now. There's a lot of uncertainty. Like I said, it was just dropped on us," Perfect said.
Saputo said it faces $23 million in costs related to the closures, including a $19-million writedown on fixed assets.
However, it expects to save $7 million annually by 2019 because of increased efficiency.
The company said it plans another $32 million in upgrades. Saputo is the largest cheese manufacturer and the leading fluid milk and cream processor in Canada, operating under the Black Creek, Armstrong, Saputo, Dairyland and several other brands.
It has been successful in buying up smaller dairies throughout the world, but also has streamlined operations, closing plants in Alberta and the U.S. two years ago.