The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing $2.25 million in provincially licensed meat processing plants to better protect employees and ensure the continued supply of healthy products for consumers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), the first stream of the Agri-food Workplace Protection Program will provide funding to implement COVID-19 health and safety measures in provincially licensed meat plants, including purchasing additional personal protective equipment, redesigning workstations, supporting employees who require mandatory isolation, and work-site mobility and transportation.
"We are tremendously grateful to our meat processors who are providing an essential service to put food on our tables during this unprecedented time. The health and safety of these individuals on the frontlines is paramount," said Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. "The funding announced today will help Ontario meat businesses with the costs of implementing the measures that follow the best public health guidance."
"Our meat processors and their hard-working employees play a critical role in keeping our entire food supply chain safe and strong, while supplying us with fresh, high-quality, and nutritious food," said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "Today's announcement is an important step in keeping our essential workers healthy and safe during COVID-19 and beyond." "The health and safety of agri-food workers, and all workers across Ontario, is a top priority," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "Meat processing employees are rightly being recognized as unsung heroes for their role in putting food on our tables during COVID-19. The initiative announced today is one more way we're helping them stay healthy on the job."
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will begin accepting applications on May 12, 2020 and will expedite the approval process to get the necessary support to the agri-food sector faster. Eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.
Today's announcement follows previous actions taken by the federal and provincial government to support the agri-food sector. Those commitments include $1 million to help Ontario farmers, food processors and other agri-food supply chain partners address labour shortages, as well as $2.5 million to improve e-business opportunities for Ontario's agri-food sector.
Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed support to approximately 2,500 projects through the Partnership to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.
More information about this targeted intake and the program guidelines can be found online on May 12,2020 at: http://omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/index.htm or by calling: 1-877-424-1300.
OMAFRA delivers cost-share funding for the the Agri-food Workplace Protection Program. The Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments to support Canada's agri-food and agri-products sectors.
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development recently released safety guidelines for employers to help protect workers, customers, and the general public from COVID-19.
Health and Safety inspectors are now working with employers in the agri-food sector to help ensure the safety of employees, including temporary foreign workers.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides information on COVID-19 for industry.