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Feds invest in ag worker safety

Feds invest in ag worker safety

Ottawa will provide almost $1 million towards the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund in Nova Scotia

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The federal government is helping farmers keep employees safe.

Through the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund, Ottawa is providing Canadian farm businesses with $35 million to purchase personal protective equipment, improve living quarters or make other necessary changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Nova Scotia, for example, the federal government is providing $983,500 in funding.

“Everyone needs to feel safe and supported when they go to work. Since the start of the pandemic, it has been a top priority to protect the health of all farm workers who are working hard to feed Canadians,” Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food said in an Oct. 23 statement.

“With this program, Nova Scotia farmers will have the support they need to ensure the right measures are in place to safeguard their employees’ health and safety, and limit the spread of the virus.”

The provincial ministry of agriculture will contribute $245,875 in funding.

Farmers are pleased to see multiple levels of government come through with important assistance.

Producers were unsure of where to go for help when the pandemic started, said Victor Oulton, the president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.

“At the time, we didn’t know what we were going to need, and if there was even enough supply for us,” he told Farms.com. “Farmers still have to produce food, so it’s nice to see governments acknowledge this and help us out a bit.”

Oulton raises livestock and grows apples in Hants County.

He employs about 25 inidivuduals who work on his farm and farm market.

Running a business during a pandemic has been a learning experience, he said.

“It’s been a challenge at times making sure everyone is socially distanced,” he said. “It’s not like you can plan for a pandemic, so we’ve got to do the best we can.”

The federal government has announced emergency support funding for farmers in other provinces, too.

The ag industry in British Columbia will receive $4.9 million and producers in Prince Edward Island will receive a total of $945,000.

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