Government of Canada invests $7.5 million to further protect Quebec farm workers during COVID-19
November 3, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Government of Canada recognizes the critical role of the food supply chain and is committed to improving the safety of these workplaces.
Today, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced an investment of $7.5 million under the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund to help Quebec farmers better protect the health and safety of farm workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure will be administered by La Financiere Agricole du Quebec (FADQ).
Eligible activities include 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 that safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19.
Applications will be accepted through La Financiere agricole from December 14, 2020, to February 26, 2021. The financial assistance consists of a lump sum of up to 2% of salaries or 50% of eligible expenses declared by the farm. The financial assistance can be increased to 2.4% of salaries or to 60% of eligible expenses when the business is majority owned by women, young farmers under 40, people with disabilities, members of visible minorities or Indigenous peoples, as the Government of Canada encourages and empowers under-represented groups in the agriculture sector.
“Everyone needs to feel safe and supported when they go to work. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting the health of all farm workers who are working hard to feed Canadians has been a top priority. With this program, Quebec farmers will have the support they need to ensure the right measures are in place to safeguard their employees’ health and safety and limit the spread of the virus.”
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
“Quebec has been particularly active in establishing safety measures to protect the health of workers in the bio-food sector. I am very pleased with this announcement from the federal government, with which we wish to continue collaborating to ensure that all workers remain safe while carrying out their agricultural activities.”
- André Lamontagne, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ)
“La Financière agricole has deployed several measures to support producers through this crisis. The terms of application for the measure in Quebec were established to simplify participation while ensuring equitable access for all eligible businesses. We have worked with the governments to ensure that the implementation of the assistance measure takes into account the specific needs of agricultural businesses in Quebec.”
- Ernest Desrosiers, Chief Executive Officer, La Financière agricole du Québec
"The costs od protecting workers from Covid-19 can be substantial, even more so in operations that employ many people. I’m thinking in particular of the horticulture sector (market gardening, strawberries and raspberries, apples etc), where labour costs can sometimes exceed 50 per cent of production costs. The announced assistance will therefore be well received by producers, who operate in a highly competitive business environment with very little room to manoever in terms of profitability.”
- Marcel Groleau, Presisdent, l’Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA)
The Emergency On-Farm Support Fund provides a $35 million investment across Canada to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19.
The creation of this fund was first announced by Minister Bibeau and Minister Qualtrough on July 31, 2020, along with increased supports to temporary foreign workers, strengthened employer inspections regime, and the development of improved employer-provided living accommodation requirements.
The $7.5-million investment is based on the participation of an estimated 982 farmers.
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 spread of COVID-19.
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 entering Canada.
- The Emergency Processing Fund (EPF), a one-time, federal investment of up to $77.5 million to help companies implement changes to safeguard the health and safety of workers and their families due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund also aims to aid companies to invest to improve, automate and modernize facilities needed to increase Canada’s food supply capacity.
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
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Office of the Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ)
Communications and Public Relations Advisor
La Financière agricole du Québec
418-834-6866, ext. 6223
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