Greenhouse farmers of Windsor-Essex County work towards Stage 3 reopening
August 4, 2020 By Greenhouse Canada
Most of Ontario progressed onto Stage 3 of reopenings at the end of July, with the exception of Windsor-Essex County where a large fraction of Ontario’s greenhouse vegetable operations are located.
As Fruit & Vegetable magazine reports, there are five agricultural workplaces currently experiencing outbreaks in the Windsor-Essex area as of August 4: four in Kingsville and one in Leamington. A workplace outbreak is defined as two or more employees testing positive for COVID-19 within a reasonable timeline to suspect transmission in the workplace. The number of outbreaks is decreasing. One week ago, there were six ongoing outbreaks among agriculture workplaces.
Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) says “Local growers are continuing their efforts to keep farm employees safe by ensuring they are treated with respect and dignity, are paid fairly, have access to health care and benefits, and importantly, are safely housed. Farms, and employee living and working conditions, continue to be regularly inspected by multiple agencies and governments.”
“We want to see Windsor-Essex get to Stage three,” says Joe Sbrocchi, General Manager of OGVG. “As growers, our job is to get food on people’s plates and to keep workers safe while doing so. To open up as quickly as possible, we support the government and local health authorities to act on quickly both on- and off-farm testing for all agri-food employees.”
To help expedite Stage three re-opening in Windsor-Essex, the sector is calling on government and local health authorities to action two specific testing priorities:
- Facilitate the availability of local and province-wide proactive testing of all agri-food employees through expanded and consistent deployment of on-farm testing resources.
- Promote and strengthen community-based testing in the surrounding area of Windsor-Essex to minimize risk of community spread to farm employees.
Many greenhouse growers have adopted number of recommended workplace safety practices, including physical distancing in worker accommodations, plexi-glass installed in the packing house and grocery delivery services to limit visits into town.
Recommendations and daily health and cleaning logs for foreign temporary workers are available in both English and Spanish on the WECHU website.
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