Canada is providing funding so that employers who have hired foreign workers can comply with mandatory coronavirus measures for new arrivals.
The $50 million is intended to help employers meet the current health regulations to keep foreign workers safe during their two-week quarantine.
Employers and temporary foreign workers share the responsibility of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Work permit holders are still allowed to come to Canada because of their integral role in the food sector.
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Like all new travellers to Canada, foreign workers must quarantine or isolate for 14 days as soon as they reach the Port of Entry. The government is strengthening that measure as of April 15. Any returning travellers who are asymptomatic, who can’t explain a credible quarantine plan, will be forced to spend the two weeks in a hotel.
Employers are expected to provide workers with transportation and accommodations as well as access to food and basic sanitation supplies.
The government will provide employers with up to $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker, to ensure public health requirements are being fully met. The funding is conditional on employers not being found in violation of the 14-day protocols or any other public health order, a government media release says. This program will be available as long as the Quarantine Act is in force and the isolation protocol is followed.
Employers and workers who do not comply could face fines, jail time or both.
Before the pandemic, the food sector was already challenged by significant labour shortages. Each year, the agricultural sector receives about 60,000 foreign workers, and yet around 15,000 jobs remain vacant.
Fruit and vegetable farms, as well as fish, seafood, and meat processing plants, are reliant on temporary foreign workers.
Foreign workers in the agricultural sector account for more than 60 per cent of all who come to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
“Temporary foreign works have long been key to our food supply,” Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, said in a press release. “We will work with farmers and food processing employers to ensure they get the workers they need and that plans are in place to meet mandatory isolation requirements.”
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