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Ontario Protecting Agri-Food Workers during COVID-19

The Government of Ontario is taking additional steps to better protect workers in the agri-food sector, during the COVID-19 outbreak. The province is significantly expanding the Agri-food Workplace Protection Program and committing up to $15 million to enhance health and safety measures on farms and in food processing facilities. “Agri-food businesses and their hardworking employees play a critical role in keeping our food supply chain strong, providing us with fresh, high-quality and nutritious food all year round,” explained Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Today’s investment will allow farmers to adapt to this new environment and implement additional health and safety measures during the COVID-19 outbreak.” The Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program provides cost-share funding for farmers, to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and implement workplace modifications and other measures. By significantly expanding the program, farmers can take additional steps to improve health and safety for their workers and ensure the continued supply of locally grown food, during the COVID-19 outbreak. Today’s announcement more than triples the previous investment through this program by the governments of Canada and Ontario. Both levels of government had committed a total of up to $4.5 million for farmers and provincially licensed meat processors, to enhance worker safety under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership program. Some of the measures already approved through this program include: purchases of PPE; temporary housing for ill workers; building physical barriers for worker separation; enhanced hand washing facilities; and a tent rental, to expand lunch room space. The Ontario government is also supporting producers and other operations that experience unexpected costs for short-term accommodation and transportation, as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.

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