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Canada shores up the safety of agri-food workers

08 September 2020

Canada's Agriculture Minister has earmarked $77.5 million for the Emergency Processing Fund, helping meat processing facilities provide additional protections for workers.

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced a number of initial projects funded under the $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund.

The Emergency Processing Fund is focused on projects to help companies respond to the urgent health and safety needs of workers in agri-food sectors impacted by COVID-19, with an emphasis on supporting meat processing facilities.

Minister Bibeau said:

"Workers in the agri-food sector, in particular those working in meat processing, have faced many challenges throughout this pandemic and the Government has been there to support them. Ensuring the safety of these essential workers is key to continue providing safe, high quality food for all Canadians."

Nationally, a total of 32 projects have been approved so far, for up to $10.54 million in funding. Funding has helped businesses purchase reusable PPE, sanitation stations and protective barriers, make adjustments to production lines to enable social distancing, develop additional training and adopt other measures that help safeguard employees from COVID-19. All remaining projects are currently being assessed and will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Minister Bibeau made the announcement while visiting the Exceldor Cooperative plant that will receive up to $262,500 to purchase reusable personal protective equipment (PPE), and install equipment to ensure social distancing of staff at the facility.

The Government of Canada will continue working with food processors to ensure the well-being of essential workers in food processing plants across Canada while strengthening the resilience of our food supply chain.

Background

The Emergency Processing Fund will help food processors implement measures to protect the health and safety of workers and their families in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also support facility upgrades and help strengthen Canada's food supply.

This announcement builds on the measures we have 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 upon entering Canada.
  • Additional investments were announced 31 July 2020 of $58.6 million in funding to increase support and protections for migrant workers on farms affected by COVID-19 outbreaks.


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