The federal government has opened applications for the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund, a $35 million fund to cover the added cost of personal protective equipment, updates to worker housing, and sanitization stations, as examples.
The fund was originally announced in late July as part of a $58.6 million commitment by the government.
Money can be used for direct infrastructure improvements to living quarters and work stations, temporary or emergency housing (on or off-farm), and other safety measures to “safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19.”
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will administer the fund in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories. The remaining provinces will administer the funding themselves, and may have different qualifying costs than the federally-administered program.
The money is retroactive to March 2020 and can be used for costs incurred up until February 2021. The funding — up to $100,000 — will be delivered as 50/50 cost share with farmers, or 60/40 if the farmer is female or a youth. Farms that employ Canadian and migrant workers may qualify, but priority will be given to those with migrant workers on-farm.
“Protecting the health and well-being of all farm workers who are helping ensure the food security for Canadians has been a top priority since the beginning of the pandemic. This is why we will continue to provide farmers with the support they need to ensure the right measures are in place to safeguard their employees and limit the spread of the virus. Additional support will also be provided to women and youth as the government is keenly aware that these groups have been uniquely affected by COVID-19,” says Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
In a press conference, Bibeau says that the goal would be to deliver the funds 30 days after projects are approved.
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