Greenhouse Canada

COVID-19 Updates News
New TFW quarantine requirements come into effect March 22


March 16, 2021
By Greenhouse Canada

The federal government has updated their quarantine requirements for temporary foreign workers (TFWs), set to come into effect March 22, 2021.

Previously, the government temporarily waived the three-day hotel quarantine requirement for certain TFWs upon arrival. This applied to workers in the agriculture, agri-food, and fish and seafood sectors.

This will not change for asymptomatic TFWs who will be able to travel directly to the location of their 14-day isolation period after completing a COVID-19 test at the airport, provided they travel by private transportation and are accompanied only by others who travelled with them to Canada on or after March 22.

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For TFWs who need to travel by public means to a secondary location and cannot get to their farm directly, they will be required to stay in a government-approved accommodation (GAA) and to await the results of their COVID-19 test upon arrival in Canada. Provided TFWs have a suitable quarantine plan and safe transportation arranged to their place of isolation, federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says they’re working on financial strategies to cover costs associated with the three-day quarantine requirement at the point of entry.

During a press conference today, Bibeau says they estimate that 95 per cent of incoming TFWs should be able to travel directly to the farm for their 14-day isolation period. Only five per cent may need connecting transportation, such as those headed to Atlantic Canada.

“Thousands of workers have already arrived this year,” says Bibeau, which is well ahead of this time last year.

Workers will also be provided with supports on arrival and during their hotel stay.

Bibeau says they are working on additional resources, potentially made available in a different language such as Spanish, to help workers administer the last COVID-19 test on day 10, just before the end of their isolation period.

Currently, TFWs must take one test prior to boarding their flight to Canada, a second test upon arrival, and a third before the end of their 14-day isolation period. This will continue as the new regulations take effect on March 22.

Carla Qualtrough, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, today also announced actions to better protect TFWs and support employers. These actions include:

  • Working with provinces to ensure employers are well prepared to safely welcome and quarantine workers – including through safe travel arrangements to their place of quarantine, and with suitable isolation options for positive/symptomatic workers throughout the season;
  • Increasing and strengthening inspections of employers in agriculture, to ensure they are meeting their quarantine obligations and TFW Program requirements related to working conditions and wages, and providing more education for employers on their obligations;
  • Funding migrant worker organizations to provide direct assistance to workers affected by COVID-19 for the 2021 season, as well as working with these organizations to assist workers during the arrival process and throughout the season;
  • Improving the TFW tip line, with the addition of live agents able to offer services in multiple languages,who can help workers better communicate situations of mistreatment or abuse, and providing additional education for workers on their rights;
  • Improving coordination with provincial and territorial partners through a new central point of contact to ensure responsible authorities are able to respond quickly to emerging issues, including outbreaks.

The federal government recently launched a pilot project to conduct more in-depth inspections of employers at higher risk of committing Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) fraud, and will assess compliance results over the coming months.

In October 2020, consultations were launched with provinces and territories, employers, workers and foreign partner countries on a proposal for mandatory requirements for employer-provided accommodations. Input received through this consultation is currently being reviewed.

The TFW Program is managed by Employment and Social Development Canada. Provinces and territories are responsible for health, employment standards and housing requirements.

Approximately 50,000 to 60,000 foreign agricultural workers arrive in Canada each year, which accounts for more than 60 per cent of all foreign workers entering Canada under the TFW Program.

The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) is the stream most commonly used by agricultural producers. In 2019, a total of 46,707 positions were approved under the SAWP, of which 12,858 were from participating Caribbean countries. The rest were from Mexico.

Most foreign workers who work on farms are located in Ontario (40%), Quebec (32%), British Columbia (18%) and Nova Scotia (2.6%)

Source: Employment and Social Development Canada