The federal government has announced $58.6 million to strengthen the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program in the face of COVID-19 outbreaks on farms. Ministers Carla Qualtrough for Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion and Marie-Claude Bibeau, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, made the announcement July 31.
- Investing $7.4 million to increase supports to temporary foreign workers, including $6 M for direct outreach to workers delivered through migrant worker support organizations;
- Strengthening the employer inspections regime, particularly on farms, and making improvements to how tips and allegations of employer non-compliance are addressed (such as by initiating an inspection) through an investment of $16.2 million; and
- Investing $35 million to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19. This will go toward direct infrastructure improvements to living quarters, temporary or emergency housing (on- or off-farm), as well as PPE, sanitary stations, and any other health and safety measures. Non-repayable contributions will be cost-shared 50:50 with the applicants.
The federal government will also work to develop mandatory requirements to improve employer-provided accommodations, focusing on ensuring better living conditions for workers. As a first step, the government will consult with provinces and territories, employers, workers and foreign partner countries on a proposal for these mandatory requirements for the TFW program in the months to come, and will work with those same partners to implement changes. Improvements to worker accommodations will also help reduce the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 for foreign workers.
To support the response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 cases amongst temporary foreign workers in Windsor-Essex County, the Government of Canada is also currently collaborating with the Canadian Red Cross and the province of Ontario to set up temporary housing for those affected in order to support them to self-isolate, in accordance with public health guidance. This work is being advanced under the Government's previous commitment to provide up to $100 million to the Canadian Red Cross to support additional relief and recovery efforts this year related to COVID-19, floods and wildfires.
Prior to the July 31 announcement, the Government of Canada announced the $50 million Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program to help farmers and food processors pay for the costs related to safely accommodating workers for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Today’s $35 million fund extends supports beyond the 14-day period.
Backgrounder details are here: https://bit.ly/2BNlXPV
Source: Employment and Social Development Canada July 31, 2020 news release