Working on a farm is unique. Farm workers and labourers often work outside, exposed to the elements, handle and care for animals, operate machinery, work independently or alongside others and work long hours.
Safe workplaces, proper legislation and workplace safety standards are necessary to all workplaces, including farms and agriculture. Supporting farmers who employ workers, rely on family workers or work independently is a priority for OFA.
OFA represents the interests of Ontario’s farm businesses – the employers of farm labour. In that role, we take our obligations to farm workers seriously and believe that all farm workers, from both Canada and abroad, should be treated with dignity and respect, and be provided with a safe, fair and rewarding work environment.
Agricultural workplaces may involve close interactions with livestock, large and complex equipment and dangerous chemicals. It can be hazardous for farm operators, employees, family members and visitors. However, each Ontario farm operation is unique and requires a flexible and suited approach to ensuring employee health and safety and to matching human resources with the demands of farming.
OFA believes that legislated workplace standards must be sufficiently flexible to balance the challenges of agricultural production with the needs of farm workers. The current application of workplace legislation to the agricultural sector provides the necessary flexibility to accommodate these factors and must be maintained.
While OFA supports the principle of providing jobs to Canadians first, foreign labour is also required to fill a significant and ever-increasing shortfall in farm labour. OFA supports access to foreign agricultural labour, provided there is a shortage of Canadian workers seeking agricultural employment.
Building on their shared values and a relationship forged over many years, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) and OFA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalize their commitment to work together to address key safety issues affecting Ontario farmers, agriculture employees and farm families.
As part of the agreement, OFA will continue to sit on the WSPS Agriculture Horticulture Advisory Committee to provide insight and guidance on agricultural matters. OFA will also utilize their Member Service Representative network and regional county federations of agriculture to assist in the distribution of farm safety resources.
WSPS is the largest health & safety association in Ontario, responsible for more than 167,000 member firms across the agricultural, industrial/manufacturing and service sectors.