OFVGA issues statement on the status of travel restrictions on temporary foreign workers
March 19, 2020 By Fruit and Vegetable
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) issued a statement on the status of travel restrictions on temporary foreign workers outside of the United States.
The OFVGA stated that they “are encouraged that the federal government is supportive of ensuring season agricultural workers arrive in Canada” but noted that there are still “many logistical challenges and details to resolve.”
Currently details around the border closure between Canada and the United States restricting non-essential travel are still being worked out. In a press conference on March 19, government ministers said they expect the border controls will be in place Saturday, Mar, 21, 2020, for non-essential travellers, but did not offer any more updates on if temporary foreign workers outside of the United States will be allowed in. Most workers part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) coming from Mexico or Caribbean countries would have to fly in through the U.S. to arrive in Canada and these details have not been worked out.
Read the full statement below:
“The OFVGA is pleased to see the statement from provincial Minister Hardeman, and have had discussions with federal Minister Bibeau, which confirm that the federal government is working towards exempting temporary foreign workers from pending travel restrictions due to covid-19. Seasonal agricultural workers are essential to annual food production. Without the support of these workers, domestic food production will be impossible or significantly limited.
While we are encouraged that the federal government is supportive of ensuring season agricultural workers arrive in Canada, there are still many logistical challenges and details to resolve. The OFVGA continues to work closely with our national allies, F.A.R.M.S., the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Horticultural Council, and the federal government to find workable solutions to ensure the timely arrival of workers.
Further, OFVGA will work closely with government and health officials to ensure that the entry of these essential foreign workers is done in the safest way possible, to protect the health of Canadians, the workers, and maintain a safe and secure domestic food supply.
The OFVGA will continue to share details as they become available from the federal government. The continued support of stakeholders and the provincial and federal government is appreciated as we collectively navigate this uncharted territory.”
A list of Canadian government resources for temporary foreign workers and COVID-19:
- (April 7) British Columbia’s Protecting B.C. farmers and farm workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
- (April 5) Frequently asked questions: Changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program regarding COVID-19
- (April 1) Letter from Ministers to employers – Temporary Foreign Workers
- (March 31) Ontario Ministry of Health’s Guidance for Temporary Foreign Workers
- (March 27) Guidance for Employers of Temporary Foreign Workers Regarding COVID-19
- Temporary Foreign Worker Program information found within Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Employment and Social Development Canada
- (March 20 release) The Government of Canada’s original update on travel exemptions for temporary foreign workers and seasonal agricultural workers
- Canada’s home page for COVID-19 information and resources: canada.ca/coronavirus
- How to isolate at home when you have COVID-19
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