Ontario’s fruit and vegetable growers are pleased with the joint federal-provincial government funding announcement of an additional $11.6 million to protect farm workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will help offset new costs and will better prepare farms for similar challenges in 2021.
“The health and safety of farm workers is of the utmost importance to all fruit and vegetable growers and this cost-share funding will help us ensure we can continue to safely provide food for Canadians,” says OFVGA chair Bill George. “Like its impact on many other Canadian businesses, the pandemic has created overwhelming challenges for growers with unexpected additional expenses such as helping workers to complete their mandatory quarantine periods, adapting equipment and modifying workflows.”
The October 13 announcement by Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau and Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman also extends government cost-share funding to a category for small capital projects of up to $100,000 for housing and workplace modifications and equipment to allow greater physical distancing for workers.
The new funds build on the existing $15 million of government cost-share funding available to Ontario growers announced earlier this year, and will continue to cover projects that prioritize the health and safety of workers, including building physical barriers for more effective separation, upgrading HVAC systems and enhancing hand-washing facilities.
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association has been working closely with the provincial and federal governments to ensure the sector is prepared for similar challenges in 2021, should the pandemic persist.
Source: Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association October 13, 2020 news release