The federal government has stepped in to top up provincial funding for workplace health and safety measures on-farm in Ontario.

Agriculture and Agri-Food minister Marie-Claude Bibeau previously announced $35 million for a federally-administered program, and this week, announced $11.6 million for the Ontario version — the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program (EAWPP).

Originally announced in June with a budget of $15 million, this federal commitment to the EAWPP increases the total program budget to $26.6 million.

Funding for building physical barriers for worker separation, upgrading HVAC systems, and enhancing hand-washing facilities, for example, can be accessed for projects and expenses incurred from the beginning of March.

“We’re committed to ensuring farm workers can do their jobs safely, and that they are able to continue to provide Ontario families with safe, high-quality food,” says Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Ontario’s agri-food businesses and their hardworking employees play a critical role in keeping our food supply chain strong and we’re doing everything we can to help support them.”

There is no official intake beginning or end, meaning projects will be evaluated and approved (and funds will be released) on a first-come, first-served basis.

Eligible projects will be granted on a 50 per cent cost-share basis, up to a maximum of $15,000, an increase of $7,500 from the earlier announced details.

There will also be 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, the province says.

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