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Ontario invests $2.25M in agri-food workplace protection funding for farm workers

Workplaces in the agri-food sector can apply for funding to help with purchasing personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and redesigning workstations.


May 14, 2020
By Fruit and Vegetable

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The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $2.25 million to better protect farm workers by launching a second intake of the Agri-food Workplace Protection Program for farmers.

The funding will be used for initiatives like purchasing personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and redesigning workstations, among other safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The fund is designed to address new and immediate worker health risks directly related to COVID-19.

“We care deeply about the well being of farmers and are supporting the investments already being made on farms to keep employees safe,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, in a released statement. “This additional support will help Ontario farmers quickly adopt new on-farm measures and practices that follow the best public health guidance, so they can continue to focus on their critical work of feeding Canadians.”

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The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is now accepting applications and will expedite the approval process to help support workplace health and safety in the agri-food sector. According to the funding announcement, eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.

A limit of one project per farm property can be funded under the Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program for producers and producers are eligible for 70 per cent cost-share, up to a maximum of $7,500 per project.

Support is also available for farmers who experience unexpected costs for housing and transportation as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak among on-farm employees.

Today’s announcement is in addition to the $2.25 million investment announced last week to help provincially-licensed meat processors implement COVID-19 health and safety measures.

The Agri-food Workplace Protection Program for producers is being funded through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership and is not part of the federal government’s $77.5-million Emergency Processing Fund. The Agri-food Workplace Protection Program for provincially licensed meat processors, that was announced on May 8, 2020, is also being funded through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. However, the programming complements the federal government’s support for the agriculture and food industry.

The Agri-food Workplace Protection Program builds on previous actions taken by the federal and provincial government to support the agri-food sector. This includes $1 million to help Ontario farmers, food processors and other agri-food supply chain partners address labour shortages, as well as $2.5 million to improve e-business opportunities for Ontario’s agri-food sector.

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development recently released safety guidelines for employers to help protect workers, customers, and the general public from COVID-19.