CHRISTA ROETTELE, Comm. Branch, OMAFRA
The Government of Ontario is providing up to $118,500 to develop specialized COVID-19 resources, to better protect the health and safety of temporary foreign workers and others employed in the agri-food sector.
Informed by health, cultural and support organizations, these new resources, entitled the “Cultural Resources Library,” will be designed by the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association in a variety of languages and formats and will be distributed to farms, greenhouses and food processing operations across Ontario.
“Our international workers have grown and harvested our food and helped keep our food supply chain strong throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “These new resources will ensure all of our agri-food workers are well informed, so they can help stop the spread and keep COVID-19 out of our workplaces.”
These new resources represent one of the many steps being taken to keep agri-food workers safe, as part of the province’s Prevention, Control and Outbreak Support Strategy for COVID-19 in Ontario’s Farm Workers. The strategy provides guidance on how to prevent and control COVID-19 on farms, assist farm worker safety and wellness, and maintain the sustainability and viability of the agri-food sector.
“This project is one of many initiatives the OFVGA and the Ontario government are partnering on to ensure the health and safety of this critical workforce,” said Bill George, Chair of the OFVGA. “The safety of the international farm workforce has been paramount since the beginning of the pandemic, and the resources developed through this project will further support the efforts of Ontario’s farm employers, to keep all farm workers safe while producing food for Canadians.”
This project, in partnership with the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, is one of the government’s many initiatives launched in 2020, to assist the agriculture sector to meet challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including:
The $25.5 million Agri-food Prevention and Control Innovation Program, to help reduce disruptions in business operations and risks of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace;
The launch of a portal, to connect farms and other agri-food sector business with labour needs to job seekers;
The creation of a $26.6 million Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program;
The investment of an additional $50 million into the Risk Management Program, one year earlier than originally promised.