Newly arrived foreign workers in Quebec starting to get vaccinated as early as next week
Byron Lopez, a temporary foreign worker from Guatemala, recently landed at Montreal-Trudeau airport and quickly went to Pascal Forest’s farm to get to work.
But next week, he and his team will head to Joliette, Que. to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"It would have been much more efficient to have vaccinated us at the airport when we landed," he said Tuesday on the farm.
That’s the Quebec government’s plan moving forward. This month, the province is expecting to welcome more than 2,200 temporary foreign workers, mostly from Mexico and Guatemala, and public health officials will offer them their first doses at Montreal’s international airport as soon as they arrive.
The government has said only foreign workers arriving on chartered flights will be eligible for the program.
Pascal Forest, owner of Ferme Jean Forest et fils Inc. in the Lanaudière region, said this is exactly the kind of help the farmers need.
"For me, it’s saving time an energy," he said, adding that when Lopez and the crew have to leave next week to get their vaccines, it will cost him a full work day.
The government recently highlighted the importance of immunizing these essential workers.
"It was important to find a way to offer them a vaccine quickly," said agriculture minister André Lamontagne in a statement. "Thousands of them will be arriving in the next few weeks to lend a hand to Quebec's agri-food sector."
But the workers are still expected to quarantine for two weeks once at their farm — something Forest said isn’t that easy.
"We’re not a shelter with 10 more rooms just in case. We got 12 rooms for them," he said.
While the premier empathizes, François Legault said the quarantine is a must.
"But even companies hiring those people, they should make sure that the quarantine rules are respected," he said.
In the meantime, Forest said he's happy to find out that those who get their first dose at the airport will be able to get their second one in the region where they work.