Our response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed our personal and professional lives, including what is needed to work safely together. What has not changed at Cameco is our commitment to the safety of our workforce and the communities where we live, work and play. With safety as our overriding priority, we took action to protect workers, their families and surrounding communities.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19
Following the precautions and restrictions enacted by all levels of government where we operate and considering the unique circumstances at each of our operating sites, we made decisions and proactively implemented a number of measures to prevent potential community spread of the virus and to help maintain the health and safety of our workers. In addition to the safety protocols we put in place, we:
- Asked employees at corporate office to work remotely from home.
- Asked that all meetings be conducted by phone or videoconference where possible.
- Suspended all business travel.
- Restricted non-essential contractors, visitors and deliveries at all locations.
- Suspended production at Cigar Lake in March 2020 (in conjunction with Orano) for about five months and for a second time in December 2020 for about four months.
- Suspended production, in April 2020, at the Port Hope conversion facility and at the Blind River refinery for about four weeks.
Consulting closely with health authorities and experts, and under the guidance of provincial re-opening plans, we implemented extensive screening and protective measures at all our facilities. Our continued focus was to protect our workers and neighbouring communities. We are prepared to adjust future actions as may be needed to support the long-term safety and health of the people touched by Cameco’s business.
As a result of COVID-19-related disruptions to our business, we did not require full staffing levels for certain periods during the year. Rather than implementing temporary layoffs, after using vacation time, we provided employees with paid leaves of absence to manage the impact of the pandemic on our business activities. To check in with our employees, we completed small ‘pulse checks’ on topics or concerns that were top of mind for our employees, for example, gauging their comfort with returning to the office. Our focus with these ‘pulse checks’ was to determine employee engagement or sentiment on specific topics to inform our planning.
COVID-19 relief funding
With so many communities and charitable groups impacted by the pandemic, we were pleased to announce our support of 67 community projects in Saskatoon and northern Saskatchewan through our $1 Million Cameco COVID-19 Relief Fund. Grants were available for charities, not-for-profits, town offices and First Nation band offices that were impacted by COVID-19. Included in the support Cameco provided were significant numbers of personal protective equipment (PPE) for northern Saskatchewan communities and First Nations, including 10,000 masks, 7,000 pairs of gloves and 7,000 litres of hand sanitizer. Donations of supplies and money from nearly 100 Cameco employees supplemented our initial $1 million contribution.
We also announced the establishment of a $250,000 COVID-19 Relief Fund for Northumberland County and the Blind River area in Ontario. Grants were made available for any charities and not-for-profits impacted by COVID-19. We also donated surplus 3M half-face respirators and cartridges, N95 masks, respirator wipes, goggles and goggle style safety glasses to Northumberland Hills Hospital, and safety glasses to the Port Hope Police Services. In Blind River, P100 masks and sanitizer were donated to Children’s Aid and to the local hospital.
For more information, see our quarterly MD&A.