We recognize that COVID‑19 on farms has resulted in a challenging situation for many farmers and other agri-food businesses and has had impacts on seasonal workers.

You are not alone in meeting these challenges—we are here to work with you to prevent the spread of the virus in the workplace. We will actively support you every step of the way.

This online toolkit aims to be a “one-stop shop” for farm operators on guidance, resources and information related to prevention, control, testing and outbreak management support.

By working together, we can reduce the spread of COVID‑19 and make Ontario workplaces safer for all agri-food workers, including international agricultural workers.

It is important to note that the local public health unit and Medical Officer of Health are responsible for the public health management of COVID‑19, including the investigation and coordination of an outbreak response, and providing guidance and recommendations to workplaces. The text of this document does not supersede the advice and recommendations of the public health unit. Individual circumstances may need to be considered on a case by case basis.

Prevention, Control and Outbreak Support Strategy for COVID‑19 in Ontario’s Farm Workers

In response to outbreaks, the province is implementing a Prevention, Control and Outbreak Support Strategy for COVID‑19 in Ontario’s Farm Workers to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID‑19 on farms and throughout the community. It includes access to employment benefits and supports, and new public health guidance.

The broad objectives of the strategy are to:

  • prevent and contain COVID‑19 outbreaks in agri-food workplaces
  • protect the health and wellness of agri-food workers while respecting their rights and freedoms
  • maintain sustainability and viability of agri-food sector

Controlling the risk of COVID‑19 transmission in the farm workplace

The health and well-being of every person in Ontario, including farm workers, is our number one priority. And prevention is key.

The virus that causes COVID‑19 can spread between people, mainly when an infected person is in close contact with another person. The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak or breathe heavily. Infected people with or without symptoms can transmit COVID‑19. The risk may be heightened as a result of having contact with employees who work at multiple farms.

The risk of spread appears higher indoors than outdoors, especially in closed, crowded spaces and during longer exposure periods. This may include activities that are performed while working and/or living in close proximity with others. It is also possible that COVID‑19 can spread by touching contaminated surfaces.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), it is your responsibility as an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. This includes taking steps to protect workers from infectious diseases.

This guide will help you use existing public health advice to develop and maintain a COVID‑19 workplace safety plan. It will help you put controls in place to make the workplace safer for everyone.

The Ontario government has taken additional measures to protect farm workers during the pandemic by expanding provincewide inspections at farms, greenhouses and other agricultural operations to ensure health and safety measures are being followed. These inspections will focus on locations that employ international agricultural workers (IAWs), who come to Ontario through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, to ensure workers are properly protected from COVID‑19.

A number of resources are also outlined below to help you prevent the spread of COVID‑19 in the workplace and we encourage you to use them.