As of April 13, the Government of Canada is allocating $50 million to help farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers with support for temporary foreign workers.
Even before COVID-19 was an issue, the agriculture and food sectors already faced significant labour shortages. The advent of COVID-19 has delayed many temporary foreign workers from coming to Canada, and for those that do arrive, they face a mandatory 14-day isolation period.
This announced funding will help employers cover transportation and accommodation cost, as well as food and basic supplies needed during the 14 day isolation period for temporary foreign workers. Employers are also required to pay the employees’ wages during this period.
Under this program, the federal government will provide 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. This program will be available as long as the Quarantine Act is in force and the isolation protocol is followed.
Approximately 50,000 to 60,000 foreign agricultural, food and fish processing workers come to work in Canada each year, accounting for more than 60 per cent of all foreign workers entering Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino, says that temporary foreign workers have been an integral part of the Canadian workforce and food supply chain for decades. “Today’s announcement will help to protect the health of Canadians while ensuring a steady labour supply to support our economy and ensure our food security during these extraordinary times. There will always be jobs for Canadians who want to work and support these sectors.”
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau says that the work everyone is doing to ensure we keep the supply-chain running, is imperative. “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.”