Dear OGVG Member:
NEW: Norfolk Haldimand Health Unit Requirements
Please see the attached updates from the Norfolk health unit. You may find these interesting even if you are based in another region.
NEW: Government of Canada extends support program for farmers and processors to protect temporary foreign workers’ health and safety during pandemic
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau announced that the Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program will be extended until November 30, 2020. The decision follows the Government of Canada’s announcement to extend the Quarantine Act to the same date. The Act requires temporary foreign workers to undergo a mandatory 14-day isolation period upon arriving in Canada. Under the Program, the federal government will provide a maximum support of $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker, to employers who are required to isolate workers under the Quarantine Act. The funding is conditional on employers not being found in violation of the mandatory 14-day isolation protocols or any other public health order.
REMINDER: University of Guelph Research Project: COVID-19 and the Future of Ontario’s Agricultural Workforce
COVID-19 created a significant impact on agricultural operations in Ontario. To better understand the impacts researchers at the University of Guelph are searching for participants in a study about the impact of COVID-19 on Ontario farms employing international labour through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) or Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) agricultural stream. If you employ workers through either of these programs, we would like to hear from you about the impact of COVID-19 on your business and how you have adapted for a post-pandemic world. This will help us to create policy recommendations that will strengthen the agricultural sector by improving access to a safe and dependable workforce.
If you wish share your perspectives, please contact Louis Helps (email@example.com). We will then arrange a time to connect for an interview of approximately 45-60 minutes. Information collected through the interviews will be confidential; your name and business will not be identified in any of the research results. Researchers are also interested in speaking with SAWP and TFW employees. Please feel free to pass along this invitation to them. More information about this initiative can be found at http://ruraldev.ca/covid19workforce/.
REMINDER: Federal TFWP Housing Reform Consultation Template and Correction
As announced last week, the federal government in consulting on proposed minimum standards for TFW housing (see attached ‘Consultation Backgrounder with Questions_Public.pdf’). We are urging all growers to get involved directly in this consultation. Responses are due by December 22.
There are two opportunities for input
- Complete the survey sent via email to you by ESDC on existing housing stock (example survey attached ‘2020 TFW Housing Survey.pdf’) . If you are an employer of temporary foreign workers and have NOT received the survey, please email NC-TFWP-APT-PTET-EPA-GD@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
- Complete the attached questionnaire in response to the proposed minimum housing requirements. (attached ‘Annex A-Proposed Minimum Accommodation Requirements.pdf’). Feel free to use the word document attached to draft and submit your comments directly to ESDC
Information about this consultation is publicly available on the Consulting with Canadians website: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/temporary-foreign-worker/consultation-accommodations.html.
Lastly, we received a correction on requirements for mattresses in sleeping quarters.
- All beds must consist of a proper bed base/frame at least 20 cm (7.87 inches) off the floor, a clean pillow, a clean, supportive mattress of sound construction with a minimum width of 38” (95.6 cm), a minimum length of 75” (190.5 cm), and a minimum height of 25 cm.
NOTE: We will be discussing Annex A in this week’s COVID Webinar on Friday, Nov. 13th
REMINDER: OMAFRA Funding Program Updates
Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program – Website Updated!
On October 13, 2020 the federal and provincial ministers of agriculture announced Ontario’s share of the federal emergency housing funding originally announced in July. This funding is being delivered in Ontario as part of the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Program and the details of this funding have now been updated on OMAFRA’s website. There are now two different program guides available, depending on the size and type of project being undertaken:
On-Farm Worker Safety Improvement Program: Larger project funding (60% funding up to 100K per business/property for projects over $15,000)
Application Form: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/agrifoodprogramfwsi.pdf
Occupational Health and Safety Measures: Projects to implement preventative health and safety measures (now up to $15,000 from previous $7,500)
Application form: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/agrifoodprogramohsm.pdf
Supports for extraordinary costs resulting from employees that test positive for COVID-19:
The Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program also provides funding support to eligible employers faced with extraordinary costs related to worker isolation and employee wage supports due to a positive COVID-19 test result.
More information: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/agrifoodprogramwwie.pdf
Some Q & A:
1. The announcement suggested that the funding must be used up by the end of February 2021, but there doesn’t appear to be an end date in the OMAFRA materials. Can you confirm when eligible expenses must be incurred by?
- The provincial and federal governments have set a final date for a claim of February 26, 2021.
2. Are new build bunkhouses eligible for cost-share? Are conversions from existing residential homes to make it suitable for worker accommodations eligible for cost-share?
- These would be eligible if the producer can demonstrate that the necessary adjustments are directly related to Covid-19 prevention and control and would be over and above what would normally be expected pre-Covid. So if the producer has clear guidance from public health, for example, that they need to space employees out further than what would normally be required by pre-COVID-19 building standards. However, it would not be eligible if additional employees were being added, or if the producer is bringing locations up to existing federal housing or local building standards that were previously unmet.