MEDIA RELEASE - June 24, 2020
The Right Step in the Right Direction
Province’s three-point plan for Windsor-Essex will help contain COVID-19 outbreak
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.
On Wednesday, 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 farmers 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 migrant 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 the migrant workers on Ontario farms are entitled to the same benefits as every worker in Ontario,” says Mr. 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.”
About the Ontario Federation of Agriculture:
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer. For more information, visit ofa.on.ca