Since January 1, 2021, 14 temporary foreign workers (TFWs) have tested positive for COVID-19. As of January 21, TFWs positive for COVID-19 are self-isolating in the provincial government’s quarantine program. Five have fully recovered and are medically cleared to work on farms.
The B.C. government’s quarantine program requires all TFWs to self-isolate in government accommodations near Vancouver’s airport for 14 days before going to farms and are screened for COVID-19. This program has proved its value in that these positive workers have not gone to farms where they could pose a transmission risk to other farm workers -- or cause multiple community outbreaks.
The BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries confirms that since the New Year, more than 530 TFWs have entered the quarantine program and 240 of those TFWs have completed their quarantine and started working on B.C. farms. The vast majority of these workers are from Mexico. They are working in the greenhouse vegetable, horticulture, mushroom or grape-growing industries.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the British Columbia government has spent approximately $15 million on accommodations, meals and laundry service for the 5,000 temporary foreign workers. This sum was spent between April and December 2020.
Through this program, the BC government has preserved the province’s food supply by ensuring local food continues to be grown and harvested throughout the pandemic. The program has been regarded as a best practice by other jurisdictions. Its success is such that the government is continuing with the self-isolation program for 2021 without significant changes.
Source: BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries