New COVID-19 UpdatesNew COVID-19 funding programming - Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program
In a joint announcement between the federal and provincial government, new funding was recently outlined to help farms address costs of managing COVID-19.The federal government's Emergency On-Farm Support Fund, announced this past summer, will be delivering funds through OMAFRA's Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program. This top up to OMAFRA's program will continue to offset expenses on managing COVID-19, but will double the maximum financial support available to $15,000.
A new cost category has also been established with support of up to $100,000 for small capital projects including housing modifications, workplace modifications and equipment to allow greater physical distancing for workers. For more information on this new funding, please click here.
New COVID-19 funding programming - Worker Wages and Isolation Expenses
In addition to the above funding, OMAFRA has recently announced further funding under the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program. This new stream will provide assistance to farms whose workers have tested positive for COVID-19 or are subject to an order to isolate by a Public Health authority and are faced with extraordinary costs related to worker isolation and employee wage supports. This program will provide:
Reimbursement to eligible employers for out-of-pocket wages paid directly to employees who were unable to work for reasons such as a positive COVID-19 test result or asymptomatic isolation. This funding will be accessible after all other funding supports have been exhausted by other available programming such as Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit or Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program.
Reimbursement to eligible farm businesses whose workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and have subsequently incurred costs to support worker safety such as alternative accommodations, meals and transportation and other ancillary costs like laundry or security services that would not normally have been incurred.
More information can be found in the application documents, available by clicking this link.
Extension to Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program
Support from the federal government continues to be available for farms to offset the costs of isolation protocols for temporary foreign workers entering Canada. Deadlines for application to this useful program have been extended to the end of October.
Canadian employers can apply for the federal payment of $1,500 per temporary foreign worker if they have incurred incremental costs associated with their worker's mandatory 14-day isolation period. For more information on this program, please click here.
FCO's ongoing COVID-19 work
COVID-19 continues to dominate news headlines across our province, and continues to be a key issue of concern for both Ontario’s people and its government. Our FCO team is actively working with our provincial government, as well as several public health authorities, on ensuring that farms are well prepared to manage COVID-19 into the future. Our team is also participating on a working group exploring foreign worker housing challenges amid the pandemic. These points of contact ensure that our team is aware of changing expectations of and requirements for farms, while giving farmers a voice in this process.
Through these ongoing discussions, a number of key issues and concerns continue to reappear, one of which being ensuring that all farms have a prevention and control plan.
It is imperative that all flower producers have some understanding of the risks posted by COVID-19 and have a plan for how to address them. The Ontario government is strongly encouraging farms to develop a COVID-19 prevention and control plan. There are a significant number of resources available to help you develop a plan for how to manage COVID-19, but this link will provide some clear guidance and give you a template to work with as well. Substantially more information is available on preventing the spread of COVID-19 from OMAFRA at this link. Further, members should be aware that the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) continues to offer a suite of free educational tools and consulting resources for farms to improve COVID-19 prevention. Additional details about businesses that may qualify can be found online on the WSPS website or by calling 1-877-494-WSPS (9777).