GUELPH, ON [June 10, 2020] – Ontario’s agri-food sector prioritizes the health and safety of all employees, including essential agricultural workers, as this workforce is vital to our domestic food supply and food security. During the COVID-19 crisis, protecting the health and welfare of this essential workforce has become increasingly important.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has worked alongside commodity organizations as well as the federal and provincial governments from the start of this pandemic to develop guidelines and protocols to protect the health and safety of all agricultural workers.
“We recognize the significant contributions of our agricultural employees to the food value chain and their health and welfare is a top priority for our industry,” said OFA President Keith Currie. “We are pleased with the response of our farm employers to work with health authorities and implement preventative measures to protect the health and safety of our essential workforce.”
Agricultural health and safety resources have been developed to help employers manage risk and enhance on-farm safety measures. Preventative practices and adjustments have included modifications to housing and transportation, purchasing personal protective equipment, increased cleaning and sanitation supplies, and restructuring workplaces to create physical distancing measures, or appropriate barriers between workers. Employers are providing regular updates and communications to their employees to ensure everyone understands the risks of COVID-19 and their responsibilities in helping to prevent the spread.
The risk of a COVID-19 outbreak on any farm operation across the province is extremely serious as the loss of skilled, trained and trusted farm employees would be devastating to production. These valued employees contribute to the productivity of our entire food system and we depend on their contributions to ensure Ontarians have a reliable, affordable and safe food supply, year-round.
“We commend and appreciate the swift action taken by the agri-food sector to adapt their operations and adjust protocols to continue producing food throughout this pandemic situation,” states Currie.
OFA recognizes the support and advice provided by government officials and local public health authorities to ensure agri-food employers have the necessary tools and resources to implement preventative measures and address the risk of an outbreak. This information is beneficial for all employers and employees.
With regard to the essential foreign worker program, information and tools are available for employers who utilize the program to ensure compliance with protocols designed to protect the health of Canadians, workers and our food supply. For more information on agriculture’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program in Canada, visit the Economic and Social Development Canada’s website.
The agri-food industry is committed to upholding high standards of health and safety protocols for all agricultural workers. We applaud the efforts of our members and those across the industry that have been proactive at improving on-farm safety measures. These actions will benefit the entire food value chain by ensuring we have a stable workforce for the entire growing and processing season.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer. For more information, visit ofa.on.ca.
For more information, contact:
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Ontario Federation of Agriculture