Workers will be tested for COVID-19 three times under the new restrictions
By Jackie Clark
Stricter quarantine measures, including mandatory hotel stays, for travelers coming into Canada will come into force Feb. 22, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Feb. 12. However, the same rules will not apply to agricultural workers entering the country for seasonal labour jobs.
Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau clarified how the rules would apply to temporary foreign workers at a press conference after Trudeau’s announcement.
The government aims to facilitate the timely and safe arrival of temporary foreign workers, she said.
“As of February 22, 2021, all travelers, including temporary foreign workers will be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival, and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period,” Bibeau explained. “Our government is going to defer the requirement that temporary foreign workers would have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel.”
Workers can instead “proceed to their usual place of quarantine provided by their employer under existing quarantine rules,” she added.
“That deferred requirement would go until mid-March which gives the government, both federal and provincial, time to develop a tailored solution to accommodate these workers,” Bibeau explained. Government officials will work with agricultural organizations to coordinate the logistics around that solution.
She summarised the process:
“As of February 22, temporary foreign workers will still have to show a negative test that is less than 72 hours old at the time of first boarding. They will be tested a second time upon arrival in Canada with non-essential travelers. They will be given a kit for a third test to be done during the quarantine period, and they will immediately be able to continue to the place planned for their 14 day isolation under the supervision of their employer,” Bibeau explained.
The government will ensure these measures will impose no additional cost for farmers, employers, or the workers themselves, she added. “I understand how challenging this time is for farmers who rely on migrant workers.”
Agricultural “workers who come from Mexico, Guatemala and Caribbean countries are absolutely essential to Canada’s food security, and we care deeply about their safety and wellbeing, particularly during this challenging time,” Bibeau said.