Feds investing $58M to support temporary foreign workers and farms
Crops soak up the sun at an Essex County, ON farm on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (Ricardo Veneza / CTV Windsor)
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The federal government is investing about $58 million to support temporary foreign workers and their employers after several COVID-19 outbreaks in the agri-farm sector.
Government officials say they have been working with municipal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as farmers, workers and other employers who participate in the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program.
“Through these measures we are strengthening inspections, working with farmers to improve on-farm health and safety measures, supporting isolation efforts and providing resources to community organizations directly supporting migrant workers,” said Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk.
“At the same time our government is committing to working with provincial partners and employers to improve housing for temporary foreign workers.”
Canadian government officials say they are strengthening the TFW Program and making further investments to safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19 by:
- -Investing $7.4 million to increase supports to temporary foreign workers, including $6.0M for direct outreach to workers delivered through migrant worker support organizations;
- -Strengthening the employer inspections regime, particularly on farms, and making improvements to how tips and allegations of employer non-compliance are addressed through an investment of $16.2 million; and
- -Providing further assistance to employers, and potentially local partners, to help manage the costs of temporary housing, as well as other costs incurred to minimize the impacts of outbreaks on farms among workers, which include both Canadian and temporary foreign workers; and
- -Increasing funding to enable farmers to put in place mitigation measures to improve on-farm workplace health and safety through an investment of $35 million.
- -The government will also work to develop a national approach to employer provided accommodations, focusing on ensuring long-term dignified and high quality living conditions for workers.
As a first step, the government officials say they will consult with provinces and territories, employers, workers and foreign partner countries on a proposal for national accommodations requirements for the TFW Program in the months to come.
Improvements to worker accommodations will also help reduce the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 for foreign workers.
“We must continue improving the working conditions for temporary foreign workers, so that they feel safe and well-supported when they come to Canada to help produce our food,” says Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
To support the Windsor-Essex farm workers, the Government of Canada is also currently collaborating with the Canadian Red Cross and the Province of Ontario to set up temporary housing for those affected in order to support them to self-isolate, in accordance with public health guidance.