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Greenhouse growers support calls for independent body to receive workplace complaints

Published August 17, 2020

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Leamington, ON – Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) are publicly supporting calls to create an independent body to receive and address workplace complaints from agri-food employees. The Globe and Mail published an article on Monday Aug. 17 in which employees and advocates were quoted as calling for an “independent oversight agency to deal with complaints” from agri-food employees.

OGVG and its members are committed to their workers, their families and their communities. The organization supports the call for an independent body and remains committed to enhancing a full suite of regulatory tools, support services and other workplace protections for agri-food employees, such as:

  • Additional testing for all agri-food employees.
  • Increased joint on-farm inspections with the federal government under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program framework to identify and address bad players.
  • A ban on employees working at more than one operation.
  • A crackdown on the use unscrupulous recruiters who operate outside of the law, asking all levels of government to work with the sector to address this issue.
  • Source and distribute additional PPE for employees to use in their communities as well as distribute PPE to local businesses to ensure masks and social distancing are the norm at all commercial establishments.

 

OGVG and other agri-food stakeholders have been working with the federal and provincial governments, along with a number of provincial, regional and local authorities, to manage through the COVID-19 crisis. The complicated interjurisdictional landscape created has been met with repeated calls from OGVG to create a more streamlined governance system for decision-making and coordinated action. A coordinated approach to addressing employee concerns builds on the progress made over the past several months.

“OGVG has been calling for a number of additional tools and services to help address acute issues with employee safety and supports throughout the COVID-19 pandemic” said Joe Sbrocchi, General Manager of OGVG. “As stated earlier this month, we believe an ombudsman-like position to mediate employee-employer interactions would serve both parties and help to strengthen the reputation of the long-standing temporary foreign worker programs.”

“Earlier this month we thanked the Government of Canada for additional investments to provide support and protections for foreign workers” said Dr. Justine Taylor, Science and Government Relations Manager for OGVG. “We believe that using those resources to create a coordinated body to address worker concerns and deal with a myriad of challenges makes good sense and will help agri-food employees and employers alike.”

 


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.”