Dear OGVG Member:
COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A – on Facebook
Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? We have answers!
Windsor Regional Hospital assembled a team of experts to explain how the vaccine works and answer your questions in a LIVE discussion Wednesday, December 23rd at 1 pm, on Facebook.
The conversation was streamed live on the Windsor Regional Hospital Facebook page and remains available to view on the page after the webcast.
Send your questions for the panelists in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org so they can be answered during the LIVE conversation.
Emergency Planning & Isolation
As you may well be aware, the Windsor-Essex area is experiencing a surge in the number of close contacts and positive cases of COVID. Recognizing that current occupancy rate at the Isolation & Recovery Centre in Windsor is near capacity, we would like to identify potential vacant housing complexes on-farm or in the Windsor-Essex county area that will be suitable should we need to compliment any overflow. The accommodations would be for agricultural workers only and all costs would be fully reimbursable through the province.
If you have or are aware of any facilities not in use that we could house workers in the event isolation is needed, please contact me (email@example.com) so that we can have a suitable contingency plan in place to compliment the work the local health units are offering.
Urgent Public Health REMINDER
As we are fully into a substantial second wave we urge all member 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
COVID Workplace Safety Plan & Templates
All growers are encouraged to have a COVID-19 workplace safety plan in place for their farm. Information on how to build a plan, and a template that can be used can be found at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/develop-your-covid-19-workplace-safety-plan.
Most local Public Health Units have regional requirements. Growers are encouraged to check with their local health unit to ensure they are meeting all requirements for their farm business and taking all steps required to protect their workers. Links to every Ontario health unit can be found here: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/services/phu/locations.aspx.
Information for Arriving Workers
The 14 day, non-working and paid quarantine requirement for TFWs entering Canada remains in effect. Employers are required to enable workers to meet the quarantine requirement. The requirements for employers to meet are outlined here: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/employer-compliance/covid-guidance.html. Frequently asked questions regarding requirements for entering and quarantine of TFWs, including monetary penalties for noncompliance can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/employer-compliance/covid-faq.html.
Transportation for Workers Upon Arrival
Employers are reminded that precautions must be taken when transporting arriving workers from the airport or from the farm to quarantine housing locations. This includes taking precautions to protect arriving workers from each other and from the driver of the vehicle. Some helpful guidance can be found here: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/coronavirus/docs/COVID-19_Farm_Outbreak_guidance.pdf
As of November 21, 2020, all travellers entering Canada, including Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) will be required to submit contact and quarantine information digitally upon and after entry via the ArriveCAN app or webpage. Information on this requirement can be found here: https://cpma.us14.list-manage.com/track/click?u=36b9f95f10516851c12b2a40b&id=fadcf0df32&e=b6b14d5e65.
Funding for Mandatory Isolation
Funding through the Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program continues to be available to support employers with quarantined workers. For arrivals in 2020, claims must be submitted by January 30, 2021. Program details for arrivals in 2021 are expected to be posted soon. Program details can be found here: https://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/agricultural-programs-and-services/mandatory-isolation-support-for-temporary-foreign-workers-program/?id=1588186409721.
Information for Workers in the Workplace
Ministry of Health: Agriculture health and safety during COVID-19
MOH has a thorough document to support employers with resources, best practices and information to help keep your workers safe and healthy, and your business in operation, during COVID-19. This resource can be found at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/agriculture-health-and-safety-during-covid-19.
OMAFRA: Agri-Food Sector Workplace Safety Toolkit
The Working with farm operators to stop the spread of COVID-19 on farms resource (also known as the Toolkit) is kept up to date by OMAFRA. The resource includes information to support employers as they work to keep workers safe, resources and funding available, and what to do if your farm experiences workers with symptoms, test positive, and in the event of an outbreak.
REMINDER: Active Screening Requirement
Employers must actively screen every worker before they enter the workplace at the start of their shift as described in the instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/coronavirus/docs/workplace_screening_tool_guidance.pdf.
- Active screening may be done in person at the workplace or remotely using telephone, internet (online), email submission or an app prior to entry.
- Actively screen each person entering the workplace for work purposes, including workers, volunteers, suppliers and contractors.
- Screening should occur before or when the person arrives at the workplace at the beginning of their shift or visit.
- Use the COVID-19 screening tool for workplaces or ensure that your screening process includes all the questions from the screening tool.
- A screener should advise anyone who does not pass the screening:
- that they may not enter the workplace, including any outdoor, or partially outdoor, workplaces
- to go home to self-isolate immediately
- to contact their health care provider or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) to find out if they need a COVID-19 test and for further instructions
- Make sure screeners receive information and instruction on how to perform this work safely and what to do if a person must be excluded from the workplace.
Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program
Funding for projects that lead to increased protections for farm workers continues to be available through the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Program. There are 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
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.
WSPS webinar on WSPS services, funding and WSIB rebates
If growers are considering, or have questions about, the COVID/health & safety related programs available to Ontario farmers, growers or their HR managers are encouraged to participate in the January 12th, 2021 10:30am to 11:30am webinar hosted by OFVGA in partnership with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS). The webinar will contain:
- a first-hand account from a grower (Pfenning Farms) of their experience using WSPS services
- WSPS staff explaining how growers can access WSPS services, including a free one-on-one consultation on how to raise health and safety on their farm from a COVID-19 perspective and in general
- Overview of financial supports available to growers for health and safety measures that cost money, including OMAFRA’s Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program and WSIB’s Health & Safety Excellence program
The registration details are here:
- Date: January 12, 2021, 10:30 – 11:30am [Note: depending on the volume of participant questions, the session may be extended a bit past the hour]
- Registration link: https://www.wsps.ca/Shop/Conferences-and-Events/WSPS-Safety-Connection/WSPS-Safety-Connection/Virtual-Webinar-Jan-12,-2021.aspx
With the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic and the next growing season nearly upon us, it is imperative that growers remain vigilant about doing their part to protect incoming workers and at the same time, limit the spread of the virus. The following information is intended to serve as reminders of steps employers must be taking, as well as resources to support growers in these efforts. Please share with your growers.
As the second wave of the pandemic progresses and public health guidelines evolve, it is vital growers remain informed on their responsibilities as an employer and a business owner.
FARMS Travel Costs
Attached you will find a document outlining the increases travel costs for workers from Mexico and Caribbean countries. The average increase is approximately 6% from Mexico and 10% for all Caribbean countries for north and southbound flights. The maximum deduction per day to recover travel costs ranges from $2.39 per day to 10% of gross pay weekly.
Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development has published a COVID-19 workplace safety plan toolkit for employers to help them develop a workplace safety plan for their unique situation. Webinars and sample COVID-19 safety plans are also available.
200+ sector-specific guidance documents have been developed and issued, as well as other resources on cross-cutting topics such as
- using masks in the workplace (guide)
- self-isolation and return to work (fact sheet)
- maintaining preventive behaviours at work (posters)