The Ontario government is providing $10 million in funding for farmers and agri-food operators to buy personal protective equipment (PPE), enhance cleaning and disinfection and redesign workstations in order to better protect workers, the government says in a news release on April 8. The funding is part of the province’s 2021 budget.
“It is critical that we take every step possible to protect worker health and safety and ensure the province’s food producers can continue operating,” Ernie Hardeman, Ontario minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, says in the release. “The men and women on our farms and in the agri-food sector are essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic and deserve our support and appreciation.”
Under the new Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program, farms and agri-food businesses who hire three or more employees will be eligible for funding, the release notes. Additional businesses and workers will be eligible including corn detasselers, transporters, hatcheries, and primary processors.
The funding will assist farmers who experience unexpected costs for short-term or temporary housing and transportation as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak among on-farm employees, the release notes. In addition, increased flexibility has been built into the program to ensure it can respond to emerging issues and risks.
Detailed program information and application forms will be available when the intake opens on April 22, 2021 and will cover costs retroactive to March 13, 2021. Applications will be accepted while funding is available or until Nov. 30, 2021. The approval process has been simplified and will be expedited, the release says.