Governments investing $26.6 million to protect Ontario agri-food workers during coronavirus
Actions such as building physical barriers for worker separation, upgrading HVAC systems and enhancing hand-washing facilities will be eligible for this funding.
The federal funding that will be delivered by Ontario is in addition to the Ontario government's commitment in June of up to $15 million to support workplace safety enhancements in the sector through the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program.
Under the expanded program, the amount farmers can claim for preventive expenses including a combination of workplace modifications, PPE, transportation and temporary housing will double to $15,000.
The program will also include a new category for small capital projects of up to $100,000 for housing modifications, workplace modifications and equipment to allow greater physical distancing for workers.
Such supports include:
- Helping agri-food sectors cover the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period through $50 million in federal funding for the Mandatory Isolation Support Program for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW).
- Investing up to $77.5 million through the federal Emergency Processing Fund to help companies implement changes to safeguard the health and safety of workers due to the impacts of coronavirus.
- Increasing funding for the Ontario Risk Management Program by $50 million starting in 2020 to help farmers enrolled in the program deal with the severe market challenges resulting from coronavirus.
- Increasing the amounts farmers can receive in AgriStability interim payments to 75 per cent of their estimated final payment to help with cash flow.
- Building a Canada-Ontario AgriRecovery program for hog and cattle to help cover increased costs of feeding market-ready animals due to coronavirus related processing delays.
- Enhancing the AgriInsurance coverage to include labour shortages due to coronavirus during the 2020 growing season.
- Launching an online toolkit with information on prevention, accommodations, wages, social, health and wellness assessments, and social supports that are available to farmers and their workers.
- Providing red-tape relief by extending more than 20 licenses or permit regulations covering the agri-food sector during the period covered by coronavirus emergency orders. ■