Federal government announces fund for farmers who rely on migrant workers
KITCHENER -- The federal government has given farmers a boost, with the agriculture minister announcing a new fund on Monday for farmers using temporary migrant workers.
The money is meant to help with accommodations during the two-week isolation period after travelling.
Lincoln Thompson has travelled from Jamaica to New Hamburg every year since 2006 to work on Pfenning's Organic Farm.
This year, he and 34 other migrant workers haven't arrived yet.
"We're waiting to find out when we'll be able to get them on a plane," says co-owner Jenn Pfenning.
The pandemic has delayed the process: migrant workers are health screened before travelling to Canada, and must isolate for 14 days after they arrive.
Pfenning says the delay will "seriously inhibit" their crop production this season.
On Monday, the federal government announced a $50-million boost to help the agriculture sector.
"The new federal support provides employers with $1,500 per worker," Agriculture Minister Marie Claude Bibeau said in French at the time.
That money is meant to assist with accommodations or pay during isolation.
At Martin's Family Fruit Farm, President Kevin Martin says that 20 employees have already arrived and are in quarantine.
He says they can start working on Thursday, but the farm usually operates with over 50 migrant workers this time of year.
"We'll be able to manage through, but it's come harvest time that then that is where it becomes super critical," he says.
Farmers say they've used the same migrant workers for decades, making them the best fit for the job.
Jenn Pfenning says they're "vital" to her farm.
Both farms say the federal government's new funding will help offset some of the unexpected costs during the global pandemic.
The funding will be available as long as the Quarantine Act is enforced and if isolation protocols are followed.
The minister stressed Monday that those who do not comply will face severe sanctions and fines.