Program covers PPE, redesigned workstations, supporting employees in isolation
The federal and Ontario governments have announced they are investing $2.25 million in provincially licensed meat processing plants to better protect employees and ensure the continued supply of healthy products for consumers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"The health and safety of agri-food workers, and all workers across Ontario, is a top priority," says Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development. "Meat processing employees are rightly being recognized as unsung heroes for their role in putting food on our tables during COVID-19. The initiative announced today is one more way we're helping them stay healthy on the job."
Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the first stream of the Agri-food Workplace Protection Program will provide funding to implement COVID-19 health and safety measures at the plants. These measures include purchasing additional personal protective equipment (PPE), redesigning workstations and supporting employees who require mandatory isolation, work-site mobility and transportation.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will begin accepting applications on May 12.
The announcement follows a $1-million commitment from both governments to help Ontario farmers, food processors and other agri-food supply chain partners address labour shortages and a $2.5-million investment to improve e-business opportunities for Ontario's agri-food sector.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $252 million in funding for the agriculture sector to help workers and employers during the time of COVID-19. Ontario, as well as Prince Edward Island, have also launched initiatives that will connect job seekers with employment opportunities in the agriculture industry.
Ontario is currently starting to reopen its economy. On May 11, non-essential retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery. The province is also expanding virtual mental health services to help thousands of Ontarians experiencing anxiety and depression, including frontline health-care workers, during the COVID-19 outbreak.