The BC provincial government will now require all temporary foreign workers to spend their 14-day isolation period in government-arranged accommodations before travelling to farm workplaces.
“This will help support farmers who may not have the physical resources to house workers as required by the Provincial Health Officer, as well as provide more protection for communities,” states the Western Agriculture Labour Initiative (WALI) in a release.
The Province will fund hotel and food-service costs during the 14-day self-isolation period. Accommodations will be in the Lower Mainland near the airport and not at the farm workplace. The Province is also providing access to socio-economic and cultural supports for workers while they self-isolate.
AgStream BC workers with travel arrangements made outside of Mi Tierra Holidays, are being asked to contact email@example.com with the information on the date of arrival, flight number, total number of workers and their names and farm information (farm name, primary contact, email and phone number). This will allow the province to ensure space is available for arriving workers and for transportation to be arranged.
Following 14 days of self-isolation, if no symptoms develop (or once the employee is fully recovered if symptoms do develop), workers will be safely transported to their farm.
Employers are responsible for paying temporary foreign workers for a minimum 30 hours per week during self-isolation, and at the rate of pay specified on the federal Labour Market Impact Assessment.
Before workers are safely transported to individual farms, all employers must complete a COVID-19 infection prevention checklist. The checklist is currently under development and will follow the B.C. government protocols released last week, states WALI. Farms will also be subject to an inspection by provincial government staff before they can accept workers.
Before departing their country of origin, TFWs will be screened by the airline and federal government for COVID-19 symptoms and will not be permitted to travel to Canada until they are asymptomatic.
Upon arrival in Canada, TFWs who have travelled to B.C. for seasonal farming work will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms by federal officials (Canadian Border Service Agency and Public Health Agency of Canada). If they have symptoms upon arrival, depending on the severity of their condition, they may be placed in quarantine at the point of entry or be sent to the hospital as per the federal Quarantine Act. If asymptomatic, workers will be sent to a government-managed accommodation to self-isolate for 14 days.
TFWs will need to monitor their conditions during self-isolation – if symptoms like a cough, shortness of breath or fever develop, they will need to call the public health authority or 811.
Approximately 1,000 TFWs will arrive in British Columbia from Mexico in April to perform seasonal farm work through the SAWP. An additional 2,000 to 3,000 TFWs are expected to arrive in B.C. after April. Approximately 10,000 seasonal farm workers are employed in B.C. through the federal Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program (SAWP) each year.
Employers with questions should contact AgriServiceBC at 1 888 221-7141 or by email: AgriServiceBC@gov.bc.ca
Information sheet for arriving employees: http://news.gov.bc.ca/files/TFW_Farm_Workers.pdf
For the provincial health officer’s orders, notices and guidance, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/phoguidance
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