Government announces $50M to keep food supply chain safe
April 14, 2020, Ottawa, Ont. – The federal government has announced $50 million to help farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers put in place the measures necessary to follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad.
Government said in a statement that, in many regions across Canada, producing a variety of quality foods to be sold at affordable prices relies upon the contributions of experienced temporary foreign workers right from planting season to harvest – particularly for fresh fruits and vegetables. Fish, seafood and meat processing plants are also reliant on the addition of these workers.
“This is an important reason why the Government of Canada granted an exemption for temporary foreign workers from travel restrictions to Canada, along with other foreigners with student and work visas, provided they adhere to a strict 14-day isolation protocol upon arrival,” the statement said.
“The rules of the mandatory isolation period have been clearly defined and distributed to the employers, who themselves are committed to protecting the health of their communities and their workers. Government authorities will continue to proactively communicate and engage with employers, source countries and other stakeholders on public health requirements.”
The government stated that those who do not comply with the Quarantine Act or the isolation protocol will face severe fines and sanctions. Under proposed changes, employers could also face significant penalties, and a possible ban from the program, if they prevent adherence to the self-isolation order.
In addition to the responsibility of paying the workers for the two weeks during which time they can not work, many employers are also responsible for providing workers with transportation and accommodations, as well as access to food and basic supplies needed to meet all of the conditions imposed by public health authorities.
The federal government is providing support of $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker, to employers or those working with them to ensure requirements are fully met. The funding is conditional on employers not being found in violation of the mandatory 14-day isolation protocols or any other public health order. The program will be available as long as the Quarantine Act is in force and the isolation protocol is followed.
As labour circumstances are different across regions in Canada, the government will work with interested provinces and territories in the coming days to ensure the funding is delivered in a manner that meets their needs and best ensures quarantine requirements are met.
“I would like to thank farmers, food processing plant workers, truckers, inspectors, grocers, food bank volunteers and all those who are helping to provide us with quality and affordable food,” said Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. “Temporary foreign workers have long been key to our food supply. We will work with farmers and food processing employers to ensure they get the workers they need and that plans are in place to meet mandatory isolation requirements.”