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Greenhouse growers committed to keeping farm employees safe as part of efforts help get Windsor-Essex to Stage 3

Published August 4, 2020

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Leamington, ON – Area greenhouse farms are stepping up to play their part to help Windsor-Essex get to Stage three of re-opening. Local growers are continuing their efforts to keep farm employees safe by ensuring they are treated with respect and dignity, are paid fairly, have access to health care and benefits, and importantly, are safely housed. Farms, and employee living and working conditions, continue to be regularly inspected by multiple agencies and governments.

 

Farmers remain committed to:

• Informing employees about available testing options and doing their part to make sure employees’ legal rights for       job protection and income protection (e.g. WSIB) are respected.

• Continuing to work with all levels of government to provide COVID-19 health and safety training guidelines for

     farmers and employees.

• Limiting the movement of local temporary contract employees from one farm to another to reduce the risk of

     community spread and ensuring appropriate protections are in place to limit exposure between contract and

     full time employees to decrease the risk of infection.

 

“We want to see Windsor-Essex get to Stage three,” says Joe Sbrocchi, General Manager of Ontario Greenhouse

Vegetable Growers (OGVG). As growers our job is to get food on people’s plates and to keep workers safe while doing so. To open up as quickly as possible, we support the government and local health authorities to act on quickly both onand off-farm testing for all agri-food employees.”

 

To help expedite Stage three re-opening in Windsor-Essex, the sector calling on government and local health authorities to action two specific testing priorities:

  • Facilitate the availability of local and province-wide proactive testing of all agri-food employees throughexpanded and consistent deployment of on-farm testing resources.
  • Promote and strengthen community-based testing in the surrounding area of Windsor-Essex to minimize risk

  of community spread to farm employees.

 

“To get the economy going again, we need the collective efforts of growers, governments and local health authorities

to help farmers keep employees safe and maintain our food supply, said Dr. Justine Taylor, Science & GR Manager with OGVG. Our greenhouse farmers are committed to continuing to work with government and health officials to protect the health and safety of our essential agricultural employees so that they can continue to ensure that locally grown fruits and vegetables are available year-round.”


Greenhouse growers appreciate additional $58.6M from federal government for international agri-food workers

Published August 1, 2020

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Leamington ON – Greenhouse farms thank the federal government for yesterday’s announcement of an additional $58.6M to provide additional support and protections for foreign workers.

 

“Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and our members appreciate this new funding to boost protections for temporary foreign workers across Canada,” says Joe Sbrocchi, General Manager of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG). “These measures will further help our members ensure the safety of workers on farm as well as assisting in further improvements to living quarters needed due to COVID-19”.

 

“All of our members want to keep their workers safe and healthy and continue growing food for all Canadians,” said George Gilvesy Chair of OGVG. “With this funding our farmers will have access to more resources to ensure that farm workers are healthy are safely housed.”

 

The funding, announced on Friday July 31 is targeted towards supports for temporary foreign workers, including direct outreach to workers, improving and strengthening farm inspections regime, enhancing the living conditions of temporary foreign workers, increasing PPE supply and other health and safety measures to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19. These and other measures are supported by OGVG and its members.

 

“We need the collective efforts of growers, governments and local health authorities to help farmers keep employees safe and maintain our food supply,” said Justine Taylor Science & Government Relations Manager with OGVG. “Our greenhouse farmers are committed to continuing to work with government and health officials to protect the health and safety of our essential agricultural employees so they can continue to ensure locally grown fruits and vegetables are available year-round.”


From the Office of the OFVGA: Fruit and vegetable growers continue efforts to keep farm workers safe Sector calls on government, health agencies for proactive support

Published July 27, 2020

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Please Note For immediate release from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (OFVGA)

 

Guelph ON, July 27, 2020 – Ontario’s fruit and vegetable farmers continue to take an active role in preventing further outbreaks of COVID-19 in farm settings, including ensuring all agricultural workers have access to testing. The sector is also calling for continued support and proactive action by government officials and health authorities to help keep farm workers safe.

 

Farmers are continuing to ensure that farm workers are treated with respect and dignity, are paid fairly, have access to health care and benefits, and importantly, are safely housed. Farms, and employee living and working conditions, continue to be regularly inspected by multiple agencies and government. Seasonal agricultural workers have the same labour, human rights and social protections as all other Canadian farm workers.

 

“The safety of agricultural workers is a top priority for us and to enable early detection of the virus in the workforce, we need to ensure ongoing, proactive testing,” said Bill George, Chair of the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (OFVGA). “It’s vital that government and local health authorities work with the fruit and vegetable sector to continue collective efforts to manage outbreaks and keep farm workers safe.”

Farmers also remain committed to:

  • Informing workers about available testing and doing our part to make sure workers’ legal rights for job protection and income protection (e.g. WSIB) are respected if they must be isolated.
  • Continuing to work with all levels of government to provide COVID-19 health and safety training guidelines for farmers and workers.
  • Limiting the movement of local temporary contract workers from one farm to another to reduce the risk of community spread. This also means separating local and international guest workers to decrease the risk of infection.

 

Growers can do their part, but they can’t do it alone. Government and local health authorities are also key to success. That’s why the sector is calling on government and local health authorities to:

  • Facilitate the availability of province-wide proactive testing of all agri-food employees through expanded and consistent deployment of on-farm testing resources.
  • Ensure workers that must isolate, even though they test negative for COVID-19, have streamlined access to wage compensation.
  • Provide financial support and develop workable solutions for farms that are ordered to shut down and for farmers facing economic hardship as a result of such a shut-down.
  • Deploy resources to enforce compliance with local health unit orders to restrict movement of local temporary contract workers between fruit and vegetable farms.
  • Ensure that temporary contract agencies comply with Canadian law. This includes being held to the same ethical and legal standards as any regular farm employer.

 

“During the pandemic, domestic food security is more important than ever, and therefore we must all work together to protect the food system and our essential agri-food workers” stated George. “Recent outbreaks have also illustrated why the government needs to ensure workers and growers are protected financially.”

 

During these challenging times Ontario’s farmers are committed to continuing to work with government and health officials to protect the health and safety of our essential agricultural employees so that they can continue to ensure that locally grown fruits and vegetables are available year-round.

 

The OFVGA is the voice of Ontario’s 3,500 fruit and vegetable farmers on issues affecting the horticulture sector. The sector grows products in fields and greenhouses across the province for fresh and processed consumption. Visit www.ofvga.org.

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For more information:

Bill George, Chair, 905-984-0994 or george2vineyards@gmail.com

Alison Robertson, Executive Director, 519-827-5716 or arobertson@ofvga.org