Government announces comprehensive plan to better protect foreign workers in order to secure Canada’s food supply chain
TDS News – Temporary foreign workers (TFWs) have played an important role in ensuring our food security for decades, and especially during this pandemic. Their continued safety and timely entry into Canada is essential to our economy, and they deserve to be safe.
Over the last few weeks, the government has worked to develop a tailored solution to accommodate the anticipated volume of TFWs arriving this spring. Part of this solution included a deferral for certain TFWs – including workers in agriculture, agri-food, and fish and seafood sectors – from the requirement to stay in a Government Authorized Accommodation (GAA) upon arrival.
The Trudeau administration will be move forward with a two-pronged approach to quarantine requirements for TFWs after March 21, 2021, based on their final destination. Asymptomatic TFWs will be able to travel directly to their place of quarantine after getting a COVID-19 test at the airport provided they travel by private transportation and are accompanied only by others who travelled with them to Canada. TFWs who will need to travel by public means to a secondary location upon arrival in Canada will be required to stay in a GAA and await the results of their COVID-19 test. Provided TFWs have a suitable quarantine plan and safe transportation arranged to their place of quarantine, the government intends to ensure employers and TFWs will not assume incremental costs associated with the three-day quarantine requirement at the point of entry. Workers will also be provided with supports on arrival and during their hotel stay.
In support of this new approach, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, has announced enhanced actions to better protect TFWs and support employers. The Government of Canada is:
“The health and safety of temporary foreign workers is a key priority for the Government of Canada. This comprehensive plan builds on and strengthens existing measures to ensure workers and employers are well prepared to meet public health requirements to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.” – Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
- Working with provinces to ensure employers are well prepared to safely welcome and quarantine workers – including through safe travel arrangements to their place of quarantine, and with suitable isolation options for positive/symptomatic workers throughout the season;
- Increasing and strengthening inspections of employers in agriculture, to ensure they are meeting their quarantine obligations and TFW Program requirements related to working conditions and wages, and providing more education for employers on their obligations;
- Funding migrant worker organizations to provide direct assistance to workers affected by COVID-19 for the 2021 season, as well as working with these organizations to assist workers during the arrival process and throughout the season;
- Improving the TFW tip line, with the addition of live agents able to offer services in multiple languages, who can help workers better communicate situations of mistreatment or abuse, and providing additional education for workers on their rights;
- Improving coordination with provincial and territorial partners through a new central point of contact to ensure responsible authorities are able to respond quickly to emerging issues, including outbreaks.
In addition to Tuesday’s announcement, the Government of Canada recently launched a pilot project to conduct more in-depth inspections of employers at higher risk of committing Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) fraud, and will assess compliance results over the coming months.
Finally, in October 2020, consultations were launched with PTs, as well as employers, workers and foreign partner countries on a proposal for mandatory requirements for employer-provided accommodations with a view to improving the living conditions for workers while they are in Canada. Input received through this consultation is currently being reviewed, and will inform the Government’s actions in the coming months, including continued collaboration with PTs and program partners in advancing this important work.
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