2020/12/17 COVID-19 Update: URGENT Public Health Reminders, Federal updates, Windsor-Essex Quarantine requirements

by Nathan Couvillon

Attachments:

PPE poster3 copy.pdf

2020 12 16 Immunization Plan-EN.pdf

Canada’s COVID 19 Response – Ag Implications – EN.pdf

Statement – Governments Providing Immediate Support for Temporary Foreign Workers from Trinidad and Tobago Stranded in Ontario.pdf


Dear OGVG Member:

**NEW: URGENT Public Health Reminders**

As we are fully into a substantial second wave we urge all members to be vigilant with all prevention and control measures including active screening. It is critical that employees are encouraged to come forward if they have symptoms and individuals with symptoms MUST be either sent for testing or immediately isolated for 14 days if they do not submit to testing.  This applies to all employees be they local or international, and especially if they are leaving the country in the near future.  There may be liability issues for you as an employer if it is determined that workers were allowed to travel home while knowingly symptomatic. It is your moral obligation to follow up with any individuals who have symptoms. It is an offence under the Quarantine Act to “cause a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while wilfully or recklessly contravening this Act or the regulations.”. For growers in Essex county, if you require assistance with testing of your employees, either at the assessment center or on-farm, or assistance with the isolation of positives and close contacts please contact Kristin Kennedy kristin.kennedy@eshc.org at Erie Shores immediately. We are seeing an increased numbers of symptomatic positives in the agri-food sector in Essex county and this will have serious consequences for the entire sector if these outbreaks are not controlled.


NEW: Windsor-Essex Health Unit Quarantine Accommodation Requirements

Please be advised that in alignment with general public health requirements, individuals who are in their initial two week quarantine period must be able to maintain a 2m distance from each other at all times. This applies to hotel rooms and bunkhouses. This may result in only one worker being allowed per hotel room depending on the layout of the room. If you are able to move beds to achieve the 2m distance at ALL times, having two workers per hotel room may be allowed. This requirement will be part of the health unit housing inspection process.


NEW:  Federal Updates

Please find attached a slide deck from Public Health Agency of Canada outlining Canada’s immunization strategy. During this presentation PHAC stated that TFWs living in congregate housing would be considered as a priority population for vaccine distribution.

Please find attached an overview of federal COVID support programs.

Sign up to receive CFIA COVID-19 messages! In order to serve you better, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has created a dedicated distribution channel to improve information sharing on COVID-19 related to food, plant health and animal health. If you are interested, please sign up to receive information.


NEW: Ministry of Labour newsletter

Stay updated on current news from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development . Subscribe to What’s New. Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (list-manage.com)


NEW: FARMS Updates

EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2021 – ONTARIO SAWP WAGE IS $14.39/HR (for most commodities)

Please note that wages are not negotiated, they are set by the federal government.

ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada), calculated the new wage rate by adding the CPI (Consumer Price Index) of 1.46% to the current wage rate of $14.25/hr.

Please see the link below for more information:

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/agricultural/seasonal-agricultural/working-conditions.html

The SAWP CONTRACT FOR THE EMPLOYMENT IN CANADA OF SEASONAL AGRICULTURAL WORKERS states:

To pay the WORKER at their place of employment weekly wages in lawful money of Canada at a rate at least equal to the following, whichever is the greatest:

  1. the minimum wage for WORKERS provided by law in the province in which the WORKER is employed; b. the rate determined annually by ESDC to be the prevailing wage rate for the type of agricultural work being carried out by the WORKER in the province in which the work will be done; or c. the rate being paid by the EMPLOYER to the Canadian workers performing the same type of agricultural work.

If you have not yet sent your LMIA application to F.A.R.M.S., please ensure the LMIA application and advertising state at least $14.39/hr.


NEW: Ontario Government Announcement on Trinidad and Tobago

Attached is a statement from Minister Hardeman regarding Trinidad and Tobago workers who are unable to return to their home country. Part of the statement outlines that employers with Trinidad and Tobago workers continue to be responsible for supporting workers and providing housing until they leave to return to their home country. To support these necessary additional efforts, farms incurring additional costs related to these workers can access funding from OMAFRA through the Enhanced Workplace Protection Program. Our understanding is that OMAFRA staff will contact eligible farmers with more details. In the meantime, farmers can contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre for more information at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca if they have questions.


REMINDER: Winsor-Essex County Health Unit updated Spanish videos

Please see the following links for some Ministry of Labour videos resources for your workforce. These have been translated into Spanish as well.  https://www.wechu.org/cv/additional-information-workers


REMINDER: COVID support funding overview and remaining funds

We have been advised that there are funds remaining in the following provincial programs. Please take advantage of these funds before the program closes.  

 Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program: 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 a number of different streams of funding under this larger program, as detailed below. Eligible submissions for project costs incurred on or after March 15, 2020 are received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available or until February 26, 2021.

1. On-Farm Worker Safety Improvement Program: Larger project funding (60% funding up to 100K per business/property for projects over $15,000)

Program Guide: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/agrifoodprogram_guide3.htm#cost

Application Form: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/agrifoodprogramfwsi.pdf

2. Occupational Health and Safety Measures: Projects to implement preventative health and safety measures (now up to $15,000 from previous $7,500)

Program Guide: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/agrifoodprogram_guide1-2.htm

Application form: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/agrifoodprogramohsm.pdf

3. 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

4. WSPS Funded Consulting and Training

Under this program, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is providing funding to Workplace Safety and Prevention Services to help farmers and other agri-food businesses provide safe workplace, and improve effective management of the risk of COVID-19 for:

  • Provincially regulated abattoirs and meat processing facilities
  • Agricultural producer operations such as farm, greenhouses and horticultural production operations, livestock production operations and field/cash crop production.

WSPS can help you understand the risks of COVID-19, improve management of the risks for farm operations and build capacity for the future through:

  • A pandemic recovery toolkit with measures and controls to manage COVID-19 risks
  • Awareness sessions specific to the subsector
  • Assistance in completing a pandemic response checklist
  • Conducting a pandemic response program gap analysis including an associated facility walkthrough and provision of a summary report
  • Preparing pandemic response procedures customized for the business including training
  • Conducting a pandemic response program audit including a summary report

Call 1-877-494-9777 to speak with a customer service representative or visit https://www.wsps.ca/Farm-Safety-Products/Seguridad-Agricola-Agricultural-Safety.aspx to learn more about these services.

Provincial Upcoming Funding – $25.5 million Agri-food Prevention and Control Innovation Program: Details will be released shortly on the funding announcement as part of the fall budget. We expect this funding will support workplace efficiency and employee protections. Ontario farmers get millions for COVID safety, robotics in budget: Hardeman | The Star


REMINDER: Looking for volunteers for OMAFRA’s antigen quick test pilot

OMAFRA in collaboration with Ontario Health is looking to run an antigen quick test pilot on-farm and is looking for volunteers. The tests will be free but need to be administered by a health care professional. We expect there will be some costs associated with this if you don’t have in-house staff with this designation. We expect the use case will be to test employees on a regular basis in order to quickly identify any potential positive cases before they spread to other employees. Please let me know directly if you are interested. (jtaylor@ogvg.com).


REMINDER: OGVG PPE

Please see the attached flyer for the available PPE resources from OGVG.

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