New rules for migrant workers arriving in Canada
Crops soak up the sun at an Essex County, ON farm on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (Ricardo Veneza / CTV Windsor)
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Changes are coming to how roughly 50 to 60,000 temporary foreign workers arrive in Canada, the majority in Ontario.
On Tuesday the federal government announced incoming workers who are asymptomatic will be tested upon arrival, but then can go directly to their quarantines if they have private transportation.
But workers who were replying on public transit will have to stay in government-approved hotels to wait for the results of their COVID-19 tests.
If they test negative, they can go to work locations with suitable quarantine plans.
“Almost in every case, the employer ensures that there is vehicles there and that they do get them to their 14-day quarantine site rather than break it up with three days in Toronto,” Joe Sbrocchi, general manager at Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), said.
The government says it intends to ensure employers and workers won’t need to take on the costs of three day quarantines.
“These gentlemen and ladies that come to us from other countries are absolutely valued and their health and well-being is paramount to us” Sbrocchi said.
The OGVG say they feel the changes are in the best interest of everyone.
“It’s so important to us that I’d go and pick them up if I have to,” Robert Kerr, president of Kerr Farms.
At Kerr Farms near Chatham, the first week of May is when workers typically start harvesting asparagus.
“We really hope that they can get here on the 15th of April but if that doesn’t happen, we’d be in the same predicament,” Kerr said.
Last year friends, family and students were desperately called upon to save the food.
“On one hand I’m an optimist and we’ll make the best of it and on the other hand, we went through it all last year so it’s kind of discouraging,” Kerr said.
Officials say the plan builds on existing measures.
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a statement that “foreign agricultural workers are absolutely essential to the successful operations of our farms, our food plants, and, as a result, our food security.”
The new rules will take effect after Saturday, Mar. 21.