Ontario takes steps to protect farm workers


Ontario takes further steps to ensure health and safety for farm workers during COVID-19

Ontario and Canada have announced investments of up to $2.25 million to aid farm workers. Many farms have been struggling to cope with the coronavirus crisis. The Ontario and Canadian governments aim at protecting employees and ensuring continued supply of healthy food products. Farm workers are essential to provide consumers with healthy produce during the pandemic.

The federal and provincial governments will soon launch the second intake of Agri-food Workplace Protection Program. This initiative is under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, focusing on enabling farmers to enhance health and safety measures. Farms will use the funding for purchasing better personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning and disinfection of spaces, and the redesign of workstations. All of these changes must take into account social distancing, which remains the most viable practical solution against COVID-19.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture, stated: ‘We care deeply about the well being of farmers and are supporting the investments already being made on farms to keep employees safe.’ ‘This additional support will help Ontario farmers quickly adopt new on-farm measures and practices that follow the best public health guidance, so they can continue to focus on their critical work of feeding Canadians.’

Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, also commented on the new initiative. ‘Our farmers and their hard-working employees play a critical role in keeping our food supply chain strong, providing us with fresh, high-quality and nutritious food’, he said. ‘Today’s announcement is an important step in keeping our essential workers healthy and safe during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond.’

Over 2500 projects helping farmers, processors, businesses and sector organisations

OMAFRA is now accepting applications from farms, and will continue to receive and assess on regular basis. Any farm or agricultural workspace working in the agri-food sector can submit an application. Meanwhile, this initiative adds to the $2.25 million of investments to help meat processors.

This funding builds on previous actions aiming to support the agri-food sector, ensuring no disruption in the food supply chain. Ontario has set up over $1 million to help farmers and food processors, as well as $2.5 million to stimulate e-business in the agri-food sector. There are well over 25000 projects set up via the Partnership which aim at fostering innovation and growth of Ontario agri-food sector.