Growers’ association launching COVID-19 plan

The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association is launching a five point plan to support testing of agricultural workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The five point plan includes working with government to develop and distribute culturally appropriate communications addressing stigma and fears associated with COVID-19; distributing communications to workers that make it clear that no worker is at risk of being sent home if they test positive or develop symptoms; ensuring all employees that test positive or are required to isolate have access to WSIB or equivalent wage replacement coverage; and increase the use of active temperature screening of agriculture workers before work begins each day as a best practice by employers.

The OFVGA says that growers employing workers through provincial recruitment agencies can face an increased risk of an outbreak among its workers due to a lack of quarantine and public health protocol enforcement by some agencies. But if growers choose to work with recruitment agencies, they should ensure that the agencies are strictly enforcing all quarantine and public health requirements.

The OFVGA also strongly recommends that growers implement policies to create separate teams of agriculture workers to those residing on farm and those who do not.

More information about Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Programs for agriculture, including employer compliance, can be found on Economic and Social Development Canada’s website.