Now that workers have begun to arrive in Ontario and start their mandatory non-working 14-day isolation, it’s crucial that growers follow isolation requirements.
On April 6, George issued the following update:
Non-working 14-day isolation period and Social Distancing
· The long-anticipated flow of international workers started with the first Toronto-bound charters last week. The work and effort that has gone into accomplishing this exemption to the most intense health-related travel ban in history has been immense.
· It is critical to the future of SAWP and the other Temporary Worker Programs for all members to execute the protocols mandated. The most important of these involves the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all people entering the country. Farm workers (i.e. SAWP, Ag Stream, Low Wage, High Wage) are not allowed to work during this period.
· Your adherence to this protocol is essential and will be overseen by local health authorities, as well as the local police and by-law officers. All these entities will have the power to lay charges. Anyone circumventing these protocols is subject to fines, and possibly criminal prosecution. In addition to this, it may also jeopardize your ability to access the temporary foreign workers program in the future. It must be recognized that the behaviour of everyone in our communities including workers and employers will be under extreme scrutiny. We must govern ourselves accordingly to avoid negative implications to your farm and the rest of the sector.
· Even once workers have completed their 14-day non-working isolation period, the 2020 growing season will not be business as usual. Efforts MUST continue even beyond the isolation period to ensure social distancing measures are respected, including working and non-working times. Trips into town by workers should be avoided unless absolutely necessary (and are only possible after the isolation period). Growers should be making every effort to have food and other essentials provided to workers at the farm/bunkhouse throughout the 2020 season.
Wages during worker isolation period
· We recognize the ground under SAWP/TFWP has been shifting on a daily basis as you make your decisions about this crop season. Over the weekend of April 4 and 5, you may have already heard that SAWP employers are now also required to pay workers 30 hours per week for the 14-day isolation period, even though they are not working during this period.
Information & Resources
We encourage you to visit the following government sites for the latest details on the SAWP/TFWP situation:
(i) FAQs on SAWP/TFWP rules for employers in the era of COVID-19: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/employer-compliance/covid-faq.html
(ii) Government of Canada letter to TFW employers about consequences of breaking rules: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/minister-letter-foreign-workers.html
(iii) Updates on LMIA applications/process: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html
Source: Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association April 6, 2020 update