Ontario has three-point plan for Windsor-Essex

Photo by Glenn Lowson

The provincial government’s three-point plan to initiate an aggressive COVID-19 testing program on farms in southwestern Ontario has the support of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). 


On June 24, Premier Doug Ford announced expanded testing with mobile units on farms in Windsor-Essex, along with assurances that no worker will lose their job if they are diagnosed with the virus and will be eligible for Workplace Safety and Insurance Board benefits. The province is also going to provide new guidelines to help farmers safely manage workers who are not showing symptoms, but have tested positive.


These are measures that will protect the health and safety of Ontario’s important agricultural workforce, says Keith Currie, president of the OFA.


“Protecting the health and safety of Ontario’s essential seasonal work force is our Number One priority,” he says. “We stand firmly behind the farm families who have co-operated and permitted their workers to be tested, and support the government’s efforts to complete a comprehensive testing program that will help get the outbreak under control on Ontario farms and protect the safety and security of our agri-food workers.”


The OFA is confident the government’s action plan will result in a positive outcome that will enable the last two communities in the province — Leamington and Kingsville — to move to Stage Two of the province’s plan for re-opening and reduce the risk for Ontario farm workers. 


Equally important is Ford’s assurances that workers who do test positive will not lose their job while in quarantine, will not be returned to their home country and will qualify for benefits to compensate for any wages they may lose while sick.


“It’s important that people understand that seasonal workers on Ontario farms are entitled to the same benefits as every worker in Ontario,” says Currie. “If they get diagnosed with COVID-19, they are not at risk of losing their job. They won’t be kicked out of Canada. They will be given the same opportunity as everybody else to recover and heal with necessary protections for their co-workers, fellow community members and themselves.” 



Source: Ontario Federation of Agriculture June 24, 2020 news release 



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Wednesday, June 24, 2020
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