MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- Greenhouse growers say while they understand the frustration over Windsor-Essex not being allowed to move to Stage 2, their priority is the health and safety of their workers.

Ontario's Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), an organization representing 220 greenhouses, said in a statement Tuesday they are "redoubling efforts and resources to deliver results in controlling COVID-19 infections to get back to business as quickly as possible."

Joe Sbrocchi, OGVG General Manager, added, “Our commitment to you is to do whatever it takes to move forward and deliver the results we need to open quickly and safely. We all have a role to play in moving forward and we are committed to do our part in the spirit of community collaboration.”

The organization says the sector will continue testing both on-farm and at assessment centers, and try to address fears among employees about being sent home or not paid if they test positive, as per Ontario Premier Doug Ford's message.

Dr. Justine Taylor, Science and Government Relations manager at OGVG, said, “We are working with regional health authorities, provincial health authorities, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs along with our municipal partners to enhance testing protocols and ensure fast and effective communication of health and safety information and requirements to our farmers."

On top of testing, OGVG says it is taking steps to address underlying issues related to on-farm outbreaks including:

  • increased joint on-farm inspections with the federal government under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
  • banning employees from working at more than one operation.
  • support a crackdown on the use of unscrupulous recruiters
  • source and distribute additional personal protective equipment for employees to use in their communities