'We understand the unique circumstances and challenges being felt on farms and are working hard to ensure the right supports are available'
Employers in the agricultural sector in certain provinces and territories can now apply for the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund, which provides a $35-million investment to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We understand the unique circumstances and challenges being felt on farms and are working hard to ensure the right supports are available. The health and safety of all workers, including temporary foreign workers in the agriculture industry who help protect Canada's food security, continues to be a top priority," says Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion.
In an interview with Canadian HR Reporter, Ashu Ismail, personal injury lawyer at Campisi Personal Injury Lawyers in Toronto, noted that employers may be liable if their workers contract COVID-19 in the workplace.
The fund will provide support to farmers for direct infrastructure improvements to living quarters and workstations, temporary or emergency housing (on or off-farm), as well as personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitary stations, work stations and other health and safety measures.
In July, the federal government launched an Essential Services Contingency Reserve where essential service organizations can apply for temporary, urgent access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical supplies.
The government has also introduced $50 million in funding for the Mandatory Isolation Support Program for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) for migrant workers in farming, fish harvesting, and food production by helping processing sectors cover the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed under the Quarantine Act on migrant workers upon entering Canada.
In June, both Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for the better protection of migrant workers in the Windsor-Essex region as COVID-19 cases soared.
Back in May, the federal government announced $252 million in funding for the agriculture sector to help workers and employers during the time of COVID-19.
One in five (20 per cent) of COVID-19 infections among working-age adults in Ontario can be attributed to workplace transmission, according to the Institute for Work & Health (IWH).