May 19, 2020

Week 10 Growers’ COVID-19 Updates and Resources

TAKE NOTE: 

Regardless of whether your business was closed or not you must be in compliance.

Restarting The Economy

Emergency Management BC has issued the following message:

Over the next few weeks many sectors, including Agriculture, are encouraged to make plans and establish protocols on how they can operate safely in line with Public Health and Safety Guidelines.  WorkSafeBC and the Ministry of Agriculture will work with industry associations to ensure the direction and guidance they provide to their members meets the requirements set out by the Provincial Health Officer. Individual businesses will need to ensure their own plans align with these  plans. Details are available on the Province of BC’s website “BC’s Restart Plan”.

For all Sectors

  • Assess the risk at your workplace
  • Implement measures to reduce the risk
  • Develop policies
  • Develop communication plans & training
  • Monitor your workplace & update plans as needed
  • Assess risks arising from resuming operations

For Agriculture

In addition to the “All Sectors” requirements, Agriculture must also consider the following:

  • Worker transportation
  • Worker transportation/temporary barriers
  • Temporary foreign workers
  • Worker accommodation

Check WorkSafeBC for full details on the

All Sectors and Agriculture guideline.

All BCLNA members will  need to be in compliance with these requirements; BCLNA will develop a set of templates to assist you in Restarting the Economy.  Watch your e-letters for more information.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Updates

Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program (MISTFWP)

AAFC is now accepting applications under the under the MISTWFP. Eligible employers can receive a maximum contribution of $1,500 per temporary foreign worker for incremental costs incurred during the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

On May 8, 2020, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) also sent an email directly to employers in the agriculture, fish, seafood, and food processing sectors, providing them with information on the Program.

Find out more information about the program, including how to apply here.

Please contact Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada with any questions at 1-877-246-4682 or by email.

Additional flexibility to the TFW program

 On May 12, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced, effective immediately, a new, temporary policy that will drastically reduce the time it takes for a temporary foreign worker to start a new job.

This temporary policy will allow temporary workers who are in Canada with an employer-specific work permit to quickly change employers when they find a new job as long as their status has not expired. Previously, a worker couldn’t begin working in a new position until a new work permit was issued, which often meant weeks without being able to work. The change brings what was weeks down to days.

Agri-Food Immigration Pilot now open

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC had delayed the opening of the application process for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot. As of May 15, 2020, you can now apply.

The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot helps address the labour needs of the Canadian agri-food sector by testing a new industry-specific approach. The pilot is designed to help address the labour needs of the Canadian agri-food sector, particularly in yearround mushroom and greenhouse crop production, meat processing and livestock raising industries, and attract experienced, non-seasonal workers who can settle in Canada.

This pilot will be accepting applications until May 14, 2023 (up to 2,750 principal applicants per year over three years).

Eligible industries for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot are:

  • meat product manufacturing (NAICS 3116)
  • greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production (NAICS 1114)
  • animal production, excluding aquaculture (NAICS 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124 or 1129)

Wave 2 of the Employee Absenteeism Survey is now open DEADLINE MAY 21, 2020

In April, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada launched an online survey to better understand employee absenteeism in the food processing sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. This survey continues to be a critical tool to help decision-makers understand the scope of employee absenteeism issues that are affecting food companies across Canada.

Results from Wave 1 confirmed that about half of the companies that responded were struggling with absenteeism during the period of March 29th – April 4th.

The survey tool for Wave 2 is now open for the period of May 3-9. The questions have remained the same in order to help understand how the situation is evolving in the food industry. The survey is open until May 21, 2020, for all to complete, regardless of whether your company participated in Wave 1. Confidentiality will be fully protected.

If you would like more information about the survey or should you encounter a technical difficulty, please contact Agri-Food Canada.

Agri-Stability Estimator

 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has developed an Agri-Stability Estimator to provide an online aid to help producers understand how the AgriStability program works, how program benefits are calculated and how different scenarios can impact their operations.

The Estimator is a single web page, similar to a mortgage calculator. It allows producers to adjust their program year income and expenses to instantly see how benefits are impacted as a result of the changes to income and expenses. Similar to a mortgage calculator, the AgriStability Estimator is designed to give a rough idea of how the program will respond to circumstances impacting producers’ operations. It is not designed to calculate an exact payment.

To use the Estimator, producers can enter high level estimates, they can draw from their Statement of Farming Activities that they file each year to the Canada Revenue Agency or they can use information from their AgriStability Calculation of Program Benefits statement from previous years.

Resources from Affiliates

Landscape Alberta Pandemic Guide

Landscape Alberta has pulled together a wealth of resources and information and assembled them into a user-friendly, on-stop document.  Although some of the information is Alberta-specific this is a valuable resource for business owners in the horticulture industry.

Pandemic Planning Guide for the Landscape Horticulture Industry in Alberta