The federal government of Canada is providing $35 million to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19, Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, says in a news release on Oct. 5.
“Protecting the health and well-being of all farm workers who are helping ensure the food security for Canadians has been a top priority since the beginning of the pandemic,” Bibeau says in the release. “Additional support will also be provided to women and youth as the government is keenly aware that these groups have been uniquely affected by COVID-19.”
The Emergency On-Farm Support Fund will provide support to farmers for direct infrastructure improvements to living quarters and work stations, temporary or emergency housing (on or off-farm), as well as personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitary stations, work stations and any other health and safety measures to safeguard the health and safety of Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19.
The Fund will be delivered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, the release notes.
Contributions under the AAFC-managed program will be cost-shared 50:50 with the applicants up to $100,000. An additional 10 per cent will be provided to women and youth applicants making the split 60:40 as the government is taking steps to promote and empower women and youth in the agricultural sector.
In the other provinces, work continues with provincial governments to finalize the delivery arrangements with announcements expected through the coming weeks, the release says.