Ontario farmers can get money to protect their workers

Crops soak up the sun at an Essex County, ON farm on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (Ricardo Veneza / CTV Windsor)

The Ontario government, outlined a few new details Thursday about a new support program for farmers.

It’s part of their recently announced budget for 2021, and will invest $10 million to the agriculture sector.

Farmers, with a minimum of three employees, can get reimbursed on pandemic-related expenses, including PPE, materials needed to redesign close work spaces and to pay for additional disinfection products.

The funding is through the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program.

The program was first launched last year, and OMAFRA Minister Ernie Hardeman says the improvements will make the process easier for farmers, to protect their workers.

"The men and women on our farms and in the agri-food sector are essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic and deserve our support and appreciation," says Hardeman.

The program is also expanding the businesses and workers who can now qualify for help.

The new list includes corn detasselers, transporters, hatcheries, and primary processing (e.g., cutting, cleaning, packaging, storage and refrigeration of raw plant foods to prevent food from spoiling before it reaches consumers).

The minister was asked if migrant and temporary workers will be moved up in the vaccine rollout, but he says they are still a part of the Phase 2 rollout.

“They’re essential workers and they’re working in very close proximity to one another, and they’re living in close proximity to one another,” saysHardeman. “So they’re high priority in phase 2, and some of the health units are starting phase 2 and starting to do the workers that are there.”