Ontario earmarks 5,500 HEPA filters for agricultural congregate living spaces
February 4, 2022 By Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Updated: This article has been updated with specific instructions for interested employers.
The Ontario government is distributing up to 5,500 free HEPA filters to improve ventilation in agri-food congregate living settings.
This initiative is said to reduce the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks on farms and in workplaces across the food supply chain.
Farms and agri-food businesses that employ and provide housing to international agri-food workers are eligible for one HEPA filter unit per employer-provided congregate living setting.
These units will be deployed in partnership with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services at no cost to employers.
“To apply for HEPA filter units, employers can visit the Registry of Employers of International Agri-food Workers webpage at ontario.ca/AgEmployerRegistry,” says Belinda Sutton, spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Employers are requested to complete all sections of the registry and will need to ensure they provided locations/addresses where accommodation is provided for international agri-food workers. This includes the number of housing structures at each location.”
The Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services will then ship the HEPA filters to employers using the information provided in the registry.
The units will be provided on a first-come first-serve basis. Employers can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“These HEPA filters will provide farmers with another tool to use to help in the fight against COVID-19, all while ensuring agri-food workers have a safe environment to work and live in, and people can continue to access the safe and healthy food grown and made in Ontario,” said Lisa Thompson, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
According to the press release, HEPA filter units, in conjunction with other prevention and control strategies, can help control and remove harmful airborne pathogens and improve air quality
Eligible employers that require additional HEPA filters can apply for financial assistance through the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program until February 15, 2022. Other supports are also available through this program to help guard against the spread of COVID-19 in agri-food workplaces.
“We appreciate the Ontario government’s commitment to delivering another tool that will assist greenhouses in keeping their workers safe and mitigating COVID-19 risks,” said George Gilvesy, Chair of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers.
This initiative builds on other supports, including the distribution of personal protective equipment and rapid antigen tests (RATs), as well as providing $36 million through the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program.
Source: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
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