New $35-million Emergency Fund Aimed at Improving Farm Safety

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There's a new $35-million emergency fund being put in place to improve health and safety on farms and in workers' living quarters.

The move comes in response to the spread of COVID-19 — something seen first hand here in Essex County.

Neil Ellis is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

He says the goal is to set a standard for all farms across the country.

"We're looking towards a national standard," says Ellis.  "Most farms are great, but there are a few bad apples. So we want to make it easier for farms that are applying and this fund will go to farms that are high risk, areas of breakouts and things like that."

He says this will help get all farms on the same page.

"The majority of farms are up to standard," he says.  "It's just a few and, unfortunately, those few, some of them have had outbreaks. So this money will help in the safety and housing and retrofits. I know that some farmers have retrofitted already, so this funding will go back to March 15."

The new fund will help give support for improvements to living quarters and work stations to help safeguard Canadian and temporary foreign workers from COVID-19.

It's not yet known how much of the $35-million investment is coming to Ontario — that's expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

— with files from AM800's Patty Handysides