Mixed reactions to proposed COVID-19 testing mandate for migrant workers
KITCHENER -- There have been mixed reactions to a proposed mandate of COVID-19 tests for migrant workers on Southwestern Ontario farms.
Ontario premier Doug Ford and Windsor-Essex’s top doctor are saying it’s under consideration following a spike in cases.
“I would like to look into mandatory testing,” said Ford on Friday. “It doesn’t hurt anyone, you come into the country, you self-isolate for two weeks, you get tested, and it makes everyone feel more comfortable.”
The premier adds that his teamed asked him to consult with a constitutional lawyer to make testing mandatory.
“Especially for the second wave of migrant workers coming here,” said Ford.
Felena Alessandra Pereira has been working on Schuyler Farms in Simcoe for seven years and says the proposal is concerning.
“Why not everyone who’s allowed to enter Canada get tested? Why just migrant farm workers?” she said. “We’re wearing our masks out in public, staying six feet apart, and sanitizing.”
Pereira adds that she’s willing to get tested for COVID-19 voluntarily for peace of mind, but making it mandatory for migrant workers sends a different message.
“We also want to do it in a way that stop profiling farms and farm workers,” said Brett Schuyler of Schuyler Farms Ltd. “We’re about 20 minutes away [to our closest testing clinic].”
He adds that mandatory testing may be well suited for a large workplace, just not farms.
“We all share that need for help and managing and not having an outbreak,” said Schuyler.
Jenna Hennebry, the cofounder of the International Migration Research Centre, says resources would be more effectively used to improve living and working conditions that heighten the risk for migrant workers.
“It’s not about who they are, it’s about the living and working conditions they have here on Canadian farms,” she said.
Hennebry adds that testing points throughout the season would be more effective as opposed to one single test at the end of the isolation period.