The Canadian government took steps to protect Canadians and workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For decades, and especially during this pandemic, temporary foreign workers (TFWs) have played an important role in ensuring our food security. Our economy depends on their continued safety and timely entry into Canada, and they deserve to be safe.
Over the last few weeks, the government has been working on a customized solution to handle the expected influx of TFWs this spring. Certain TFWs, such as those in the agriculture, agri-food, and fish and seafood industries, were exempted from the requirement to stay in a Government Authorized Accommodation (GAA) upon arrival as part of this solution. After March 21, 2021, the government will take a two-pronged approach to quarantine requirements for TFWs. After receiving a COVID-19 test at the airport, asymptomatic workers will be able to travel directly to their place of quarantine. Workers will also receive assistance upon arrival and while staying at the hotel. The government understands the importance of workers arriving on time in industries such as agriculture, agri-food, and fish and seafood processing. The Government of Canada is still looking into the best ways to help TFWs and employers.
Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, announced today enhanced actions to better protect TFWs and support employers in support of this new approach. The Canadian government is: Working with provinces to ensure that employers are well-prepared to safely welcome and quarantine workers, including safe travel arrangements to their quarantine location and appropriate isolation options for positive/symptomatic workers throughout the season; Increasing and strengthening inspections of agricultural employers to ensure that they are complying with quarantine obligations and TFW Program requirements regarding working conditions and wages, as well as providing more education to employers about their responsibilities; For the 2021 season, funding migrant worker organizations to provide direct assistance to workers affected by COVID-19, as well as collaborating with these organizations to help workers during the arrival process and throughout the season; Improving the TFW tip line by adding live agents who can provide services in multiple languages and can assist workers in better communicating situations of mistreatment or abuse, as well as providing additional rights education to workers; Improving coordination with provincial and territorial partners through a new central point of contact to ensure responsible authorities are able to reImproving coordination with provincial and territorial partners through the establishment of a new central point of contact to ensure that responsible authorities can respond quickly to emerging issues, such as outbreaks.pond quickly to emerging issues, including outbreaks.
In addition to today’s announcement, the Government of Canada recently launched a pilot project to conduct more in-depth inspections of employers who are at a higher risk of LMIA fraud and will assess compliance results in the coming months. Finally, in October 2020, consultations were launched with PTs, as well as employers, workers and foreign partner countries on a proposal for mandatory requirements for employer-provided accommodations with a view to improving the living conditions for workers while they are in Canada. Input received through this consultation is currently being reviewed and will inform the Government’s actions in the coming months, including continued collaboration with PTs and program partners in advancing this important work. Quotes “The health and safety of temporary foreign workers is a key priority for the Government of Canada. I am pleased that the provinces are engaged and committed to working collaboratively with the Government of Canada to ensure that employers have appropriate measures in place for the 2021 season. This comprehensive plan builds on and strengthens existing measures to ensure workers and employers are well prepared to meet public health requirements to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.” – Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough “Foreign agricultural workers are absolutely essential to the successful operations of our farms, our food plants, and, as a result, our food security. We are doing everything necessary so they can arrive as scheduled and in a way that is safe for their health and the health of Canadians.” – Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau.