COVID-19: Resources for the agri-food industry
Information for agri-food employers on funding programs, best practices for prevention control and more.
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The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is working closely with stakeholders and other partners to support the safety of Ontario's farmers, agri-food workers and Ontario's food supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For information specific to food processors, visit COVID-19: Resources for food processors and Provincial and Federal COVID-19 Financial Supports for Food Processors.
COVID-19 Outreach to the Agri-Food Sector
OMAFRA and our partners are hosting regular updates through webinars for the agri-food industry. We will give up-to-date, relevant information that will help protect workers and assist our agri-food stakeholders throughout this ever-changing pandemic. There will also be a Q&A period. For more information and to register, please visit Webinar Registration - OMAFRA.
As the province continues its path forward through COVID-19, the Government of Ontario is expanding the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program to help more agri-food businesses guard against the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and support worker/employee health and safety.
The application intake for the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program is now closed. Funding is allocated under the following two categories.
- Under the Workplace COVID-19 Prevention category, eligible applicants can claim 60 per cent funding of eligible expenses to help support the adoption of prevention and mitigation measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among agri-food workers/employees. Program updates in this category include:
- An increased amount of cost-share funding for eligible expenses up to a total of $50,000 from the current $15,000 maximum. The cost-share will continue to be 60% of the eligible expenses.
- Expanded eligibility to include food and beverage processors with three or more employees, agri-food industry organizations/associations, and poultry catchers/vaccinators and professional barn cleaners.
- Expansion of eligible costs to include extraordinary worker housing costs associated with COVID-19 retrofits or minor capital updates for covid prevention. For example, temporary or permanent modifications to employer provided housing such as a new/upgraded COVID-19 related air circulation and filtration system, as a modification or an upgrade.
- Under the Responsive COVID-19 Outbreak Management category, eligible applicants who have been impacted by outbreaks of COVID-19 and faced with extraordinary costs related to employee wage supports and worker/employee isolation and extended quarantine period can claim up to 100 per cent funding of eligible expenses. Program updates in this category include:
- Expanded eligibility to include poultry catchers/vaccinators and professional barn cleaners.
- Expansion of eligible expenses to include extraordinary costs resulting from an extended COVID-19 quarantine period beyond 14 days.
To learn more about eligibility, please visit: Guidelines for the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program.
The Agri-tech Innovation Program is a $22-million cost-share program that will help farming operations and processor businesses adopt innovative and new technologies.
- The Early Adopters funding stream supports implementation of sector-specific, unique and innovative technologies in the workplace that enhance protection of workers against COVID-19, lead to increased business efficiencies and productivity, and help build the sector's resilience. Intake opened May 17, 2021 and closed June 21, 2021.
- The Innovator Stream is the targeted second phase of the Agri-tech Innovation Program to provide funding to develop larger-scale collaboration projects aimed at enhancing the health and safety of workers and increasing productivity. The Innovator Stream intake focuses on ground-breaking projects where innovation is new to Ontario, North America or the agri-sector. Intake opened August 19, 2021 and will close September 27, 2021. Detailed program information and application form can be found here.
Canadian Agricultural Partnership: offers cost-share funding to support farmer, processor, other businesses, sector organizations and strategic partnerships. Funding offered through the program is subject to change based on the timing of application intakes and the availability of funds.
Provincial and Federal COVID-19 Financial Supports for Farmers: summary of federal and provincial support programs for Ontario's Producers. The information is current as of the publication date; however, it may be subject to frequent changes.
Prevention, Control and Best Practices
- Registry of Employers of International Agri-food Workers: The voluntary registry for employers of international agri-food workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program helps the province better support you and your employees during the pandemic and into the future. Find out more at ontario.ca/agemployerregistry and consider taking a few minutes to register.
- HEPA filter units for international agri-food workers: To protect international agri-food workers against COVID-19, the Ontario government is providing HEPA filter units for their congregate living quarters to optimize air quality and help prevent the spread of the virus. Learn more: Ontario Continues to Protect Agri-food Workers.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Resources:
- Province of Ontario:
- Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination plan
- Guidance for prioritization of Phase 2 populations for COVID-19 vaccination (Ministry of Health)
- COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet (Ministry of Health)
- After Your COVID-19 Vaccine (Ministry of Health)
- COVID-19 Documents in other languages
- COVID-19 vaccines and workplace health and safety page (Ministry of Labour)
- What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for Canada (Government of Canada - available in many languages)
- Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association: Resources for Agricultural Workers
- Vaccine Resources (available in English, Spanish and Thai)
- Province of Ontario:
- Routine Screening - Employers are required to actively screen every worker before they enter the workplace at the start of their shift. A worker and employee screening tool is available. Learn more about workplace screening for COVID-19.
- Provincial Antigen Screening Program - The Ontario government is encouraging the use of rapid antigen point-of-care testing as an enhanced screening tool for asymptomatic employees, that will allow employers to add an additional safety measure to their workplaces, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Ontario's rapid antigen point-of-care tests are available for agri-food businesses, including primary agricultural production, food and beverage processing, and key distribution centres. Please visit Screening for COVID-19: guidance for employers for more information.
- Through the COVID-19 Testing for Organizations page, organizations can learn about rapid antigen screening and determine if they want, and are eligible to receive, free rapid antigen tests from the Government of Ontario. Agri-food employers who are interested in participating can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- COVID-19 Guidance: Considerations for Rapid Antigen Point-of-Care Screening
- Testing for Travel: As a follow up to the recent COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance changes, we have put together a frequently asked questions (FAQ) to ensure Temporary Foreign Workers will return home safely. The FAQ provides guidance for both employers and workers on where to go for asymptomatic lab-based PCR testing, how to get your test results and more. The FAQ is also available in multiple languages, please see links to the English, French, Spanish and Thai versions of the FAQ.
- COVID-19 Farmer Toolkit is a "one stop shop" for farmers and workers to stop the spread on farms. It contains guidance, resources and information related to prevention, control, testing and outbreak management supports.
- Ontario's Prevention, Control and Outbreak Support Strategy for COVID-19 in Ontario's Farm Workers: This strategy, developed by the joint industry-government Sector Leadership Group, contains 35 recommended actions to be taken by government, industry, farmers and farm workers to prevent and contain COVID-19 outbreaks on farms.
- The Modular/Temporary Housing Guide, developed with the Housing Working Group, provides guidance on temporary housing solutions for employers who provide accommodation for their workers, and a directory of companies able to provide such housing.
- Information Links for Managing Human Resources COVID-19 Response: to help farm and agri-food businesses understand changes related to managing staff on their operation. The information is current as of the publication date; however, it may be subject to frequent changes.
- Agriculture & Agri-food Canada (AAFC)
- Ministry of Labour, Training & Skills Development (MLTSD):
- Ministry of Health: Resources to prevent COVID-19 in your workplace
For questions on workplace infection prevention and control related to COVID-19 infections, employers can contact local public health units.
Industry Partner Resources
- Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association | COVID-19 Health and Safety Resources
- COVID-19 Resource Library for International Agricultural Workers and Employers: comprehensive list of COVID-19 resources to support international agricultural workers and employers in Ontario during the pandemic. Many resources in the library are available in English, Spanish, and Thai.
- Daily Screening App - for Ontario farms to collect and log daily COVID-19 screening assessment for their employers and visitors. English and Spanish assessments are available (with Thai coming soon). This app is being offered as a result of funding through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Therefore, the app is being offered at no cost for 2021.
- Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) COVID-19 Hub: contains critical information, resources, and updates to help employers ensure the safety of their workers during this time. WSPS is committed to protecting Ontario agriculture workers and businesses.
- Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) COVID-19 page contains up-to-date information plus:
- Information for foreign agricultural workers and their employers available in English, French and Spanish
- Health and Safety Excellence Program provides businesses with material to help meet the challenges of operating safely during a pandemic
- Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) and Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provide COVID-19 safety guidance and resources for agricultural temporary foreign workers.