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Mexico suspends Cdn. foreign worker program

Mexico suspends Cdn. foreign worker program

The move comes after two Mexican workers died from COVID-19 in Canada

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The Mexican government won’t allow workers to travel to work on some Canadian farms until further notice.

Two Mexican men, aged 24 and 31, passed away in the last two months from COVID-19. Both men worked on farms in the Windsor, Ont. area.

Foreign workers are being held back “so we can reassess with the federal authorities, provinces and farmers why this happened and if there is anything to correct,” Juan Jose Gomez Camacho, Mexico’s ambassador to Canada, told The Canadian Press Monday. “We are doing this out of solidarity with Canada. We understand the role these workers play in your food chain.”

The ban, however, doesn’t apply to all Canadian farms, said Ken Forth, president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.).

Operations with COVID-19 outbreaks cannot welcome Mexican workers. But farms without cases of the disease can bring in workers as usual, he said.

Mexican officials “told us today that (they’re) going to pause workers going to farms that already have infections until such time as (officials) understand (the employers) have protocols in place to deal with” COVID-19, Forth told Farms.com. “Everything else is business as usual, that’s what we were told by Mexican officials by emails today.”

Producers who use F.A.R.M.S. received an email from the organization on Tuesday stating that only select farms would be affected by Mexico’s temporary ban.


Copy of the email F.A.R.M.S. users received regarding Mexicao's suspension of its foreign ag workers program.
Ken Forth photo

The first group of Mexican workers arrived in Canada on April 9 and underwent a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

About 300 Mexicans working in Canada could be infected with the virus, Gomez Camacho said.

Canadian officials are closely monitoring the situation.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne recently held calls with their Mexican counterparts.

And the Canadian government is committed to doing more to ensure workers who come to this country are protected.

“We will continue to work with provinces, territories, partner countries, stakeholders, workers and employers to ensure everyone meets public health requirements, ensure the health and safety of temporary foreign workers, and secure our food supply chain,” Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough told Farms.com in a statement.

Farms.com has reached out to the Mexican government for details on when the suspension may be lifted.

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