Seasonal ag workers and temporary foreign workers will be allowed to enter the country with screening protocol and 14 days in self-isolation, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced
By Jackie Clark
The Canadian government updated air travel restrictions enacted to limit the spread of COVID-19 to exempt seasonal agricultural workers. The feds announced the news in a Friday evening release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, with the promise of more details to follow.
Other temporary foreign workers are also exempt from the travel ban.
Additional changes including waiving the two-week recruitment period required for the Labour Market Impact Assessment for ag and food processing employers, and increasing the maximum allowable employment duration from one to two years for the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Workers who are entering Canada under these exemptions will be subject to health screening before travel and required to self-isolate for two weeks upon their arrival.
“Allowing foreign workers to enter Canada recognizes their vital importance to the Canadian economy, including food security for Canadians and the success of Canadian food producers. The arrival of farm workers and fish/seafood workers is essential to ensure that planting and harvesting activities can take place,” the statement said.
Producers and farm organizations welcomed this news and await further details on protocol.
"Farmers are pleased to see the government respond so promptly to the looming shortage of agri-food workers and we are committed to working with all the appropriate agencies and departments to ensure their entry maintains strict public health protocols to prevent further spread of COVID-19,” said Mary Robinson, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, in a March 20 release.
Workers affected by these exemptions must wait to travel until they have been formally enacted, which should be early this week, the government release said.
“The participation of temporary foreign workers on our farms and our food businesses is absolutely necessary. It is nothing less than an issue of food security,” said federal ag minister Marie-Claude Bibeau in a March 20 statement, following the announcement of the exemptions. “The over 60,000 temporary foreign workers who come to Canada to work in our agriculture and agri-food sector are crucial to our food security and our rural economies. … We’re standing by our farmers every step of the way.”
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