Ministers Qualtrough and Bibeau provided an update on arrival processes for temporary foreign workers
By Jackie Clark
Yesterday the federal government provided an update on arrival plans for temporary foreign workers (TFW) coming into Canada for the growing season. The goal is a timely arrival, while keeping the TFW and Canadians as safe as possible from the spread of COVID-19, said Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development, and disability inclusion.
“Minister Qualtrough announced new measures that allow the timely arrival of workers on farms and protect the health of workers and Canadians,” Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, said in a March 16 press conference.
“Under these measures, after March 21, most TFW will be able to proceed with their mandatory quarantine on-farm, as they did last year, as long as they have a proper quarantine plan and are able to travel safely to their place of quarantine,” Bibeau explained. “Only those workers who need to make travel connections by public transportation will have to stay in a government authorized accommodation for up to three nights, until they get their test results.”
Work is ongoing to provide financial support for those required to quarantine.
The government is “committed to making sure the sanitary measures won’t put additional financial burden on our employers or the workers, I still have a bit of work to do in terms of financial mechanism,” Bibeau said. “Knowing that about 95 per cent of the workers will be able to go directly to the farm for the 14-day isolation, I think it will be a big, big relief for most of our farmers. And for those who, unfortunately, don’t have the technical capacity for transportation, if it’s not feasible to travel directly to the farm, we wanted to be equitable, so we will find a way to cover the costs.”
TFW “will also be provided with support on arrival and during their hotel stay,” she added. “The Department of Labour is working closely with different organizations such as the Migrant Support Alliance Group … to make sure that we have some kind of a welcome staff in the airport that will be able to welcome and to guide the workers when they land.”
Those staff are expected to provide reassuring guidance, with Spanish speakers available to facilitate communication.
“For those workers going to provinces not served by one of the four designated airports, such as Atlantic Canada, the federal government is working with provinces to define conditions for some airports to receive charter flights, provided public health conditions are met and proper approvals are attained,” Bibeau explained.
“I am encouraged that we will find the right process arriving directly to Moncton, for example,” she said. “The discussions are going well, I’m very confident that we will find a good process.”
Finally, “Minister Qualtrough also announced new measures to better protect workers and support employers, including strengthened inspections and a worker tip line, better support or outreach for employers, and ensuring employers have robust plans to safely quarantine and isolate workers,” Bibeau said.
Currently, “thousands of workers have already arrived this year, well ahead of last year,” she added.
Svitlana Hulko\iStock\Getty Images Plus photo