Protecting the health and safety of farm workers during COVID-19

News release

October 5, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The Government of Canada will continue to protect the health and safety of all Canadians from COVID-19, including those in the agricultural sector who work hard to provide us with high-quality food. 

Agriculture and Agri-food Minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau, today announced that applications are now being accepted for the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund in certain provinces and territories. This fund provides a $35 million investment to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19. 

The Emergency On-Farm Support Fund will provide support to farmers for direct infrastructure improvements to living quarters and work stations, temporary or emergency housing (on or off-farm), as well as personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitary stations, work stations and any other health and safety measures to safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19. 

The Fund will be delivered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. 

Contributions under the AAFC-managed program will be cost-shared 50:50 with the applicants up to $100,000. An additional 10 per cent will be provided to women and youth applicants making the split 60:40 as the government is taking steps to promote and empower women and youth in the agricultural sector.

In the other provinces, work continues with provincial governments to finalize the delivery arrangements with announcements expected through the coming weeks.


"Protecting the health and well-being of all farm workers who are helping ensure the food security for Canadians has been a top priority since the beginning of the pandemic. This is why we will continue to provide farmers with the support they need to ensure the right measures are in place to safeguard their employees and limit the spread of the virus. Additional support will also be provided to women and youth as the government is keenly aware that these groups have been uniquely affected by COVID-19."

- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

"As we safely and gradually restart our economy, we will continue to be there for workers and businesses with comprehensive supports. We understand the unique circumstances and challenges being felt on farms and are working hard to ensure the right supports are available. The health and safety of all workers, including temporary foreign workers in the agriculture industry who help protect Canada’s food security, continues to be a top priority."

- The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

"Immigration is a critical driver of our economy, but more than ever Canadians know how much we rely on migrant workers for our food security as well, and we have a duty to keep them safe. The support they have provided to Canada’s farmers and food processors has helped keep food on all of our tables, and has helped us weather the significant challenges brought on by the pandemic."

- The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick facts

  • The creation of this fund was first announced by Minister Bibeau and Minister Qualtrough on July 31st, along with increased supports to temporary foreign workers, strengthened employer inspections regime, and the development of improved employer-provided living accommodation requirements.

  • Eligible applicants are primary agricultural producers such as a farm, ranch or other operation that produces agricultural products for resale. Aquaculture production is not eligible under the program. For more information about the program please contact toll free 1-866-367-8506.

  • For the provinces where AAFC is administering the program, the applications will be reviewed as they are received and will put priority on the highest risk farms for COVID-19 outbreaks. A full list of eligible items are available online.

  • As part of its actions to protect the health and safety of foreign workers, the Government of Canada has been working with provinces and territories, as well as a range of partners and stakeholders, to ensure employers and temporary foreign workers are aware of their obligations and respect the rules in place to help prevent the importation and spread of COVID 19 in Canada.

  • Work has been ongoing with these provinces to integrate the delivery into existing provincial initiatives and tailor the delivery to the specific situations in a given province.

  • This announcement builds on the measures the Government has introduced to keep Canada's agri-workforce strong, including:

    • Travel exemptions for all migrant workers, including seasonal agricultural workers and fish/seafood workers.
    • $50 million in funding for the Mandatory Isolation Support Program for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) to help protect the health and safety of migrant workers in farming, fish harvesting, and food production by helping processing sectors cover the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed under the Quarantine Act on migrant workers upon entering Canada.

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Jean-Sébastien Comeau
Press secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
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