The Ontario greenhouse vegetable sector continues to deliver testing for all agri-food employees, promoting a mix of on-farm and assessment center protocols to all farm workers.
“Many employees have significant fears associated with testing positive and we are committed to collectively address these concerns,” added Peter Quiring, a Leamington-area greenhouse grower.
Farmers, municipalities, governments and health care providers will offer additional assurances to all employees immediately. Specifically, employees will not be sent home if they test positive for COVID-19, that they will be paid if they need to isolate and that they will be supported if they fall ill while in Canada.
In addition to promoting increased testing, and in cooperation with regional, municipal and provincial partners, the greenhouse sector is taking all necessary steps to address the underlying issues surrounding on-farm outbreaks, including:
- increased joint, on-farm inspections with the federal government under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. We rely on the existing compliance and enforcement framework to identify and address bad players. We need it to work and if it does not, we need to work together to fix it.
- a ban on employees working at more than one operation.
- support a crackdown on the use of unscrupulous recruiters who operate outside of the law. We ask all levels of government to work with the sector to address this complicated issue.
- source and distribute additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees to use in their communities. We will also distribute PPE to local businesses to ensure masks and social distancing are the norm at all commercial establishments.
“The well-being of our workers and family farms continues to be our top priority,” stated Paul Mastronardi, a Kingsville, Ontario grower. “We have taken many steps over the past three months to control the spread and ensure a safe and healthy on-farm workplace, but there remains more to do. We recognize there continue to be gaps and we are committed to addressing them.”
Dr. Justine Taylor, science and government relations manager, OGVG, added, “We are working with regional health authorities, provincial health authorities, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs along with our municipal partners to enhance testing protocols and ensure fast and effective communication of health and safety information and requirements to our farmers.”
“To our friends and neighbours across the region we recognize and acknowledge your frustrations in the delay in moving to stage two reopening, added Joe Sbrocchi, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) general manager. “Our commitment to you is to do whatever it takes to move forward and deliver the results we need to open quickly and safely. We all have a role to play in moving forward and we are committed to do our part in the spirit of community collaboration.”
Source: Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers June 23 2020 news release