Greenhouse Canada

SAWP workers arrive in Ontario, with more on the way

April 3, 2020  By Greenhouse Canada

The first flight carrying seasonal agricultural workers from Jamaica arrived in Ontario earlier this week.

According to a published update from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association and the Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Service (FARMS) dated April 2, 2020, more flights from Jamaica are scheduled for arrival on Friday and Sunday of this week.

The update also adds that Mexican farm workers will be on their way, “as soon as measures are in place to complete the process of contacting workers. CanAg Travel will be advising employers directly as flights are finalized.”


Earlier this week, Ontario’s Ministry of Health released a guidance document regarding temporary foreign workers, which closely mirrors requirements set out by the federal government.

“Employers should make themselves familiar with the document, and any other requirements placed by their local health units,” notes the OFVGA and FARMS, who also highlighted the following key points around worker isolation and pay that employers should take note of:

Worker Isolation Obligations for Employers:

It is important that all growers are aware of their obligations as employers during the 14-day self-isolation period under the COVID-19 circumstances.

To clarify your obligations please carefully read the following:  

The 14-day isolation period for workers upon arrival is absolutely essential. At the time of this update, we have been advised by the federal government that workers shall not work during this isolation period. We don’t expect this to change, but if it does, we will advise employers of any changes.

  • The SAWP Employment Contract stipulates that the worker is to receive payment for a minimum average of 40 hours per week over the term of employment. This means that when the worker’s term of employment is complete, the employer must make sure they have been paid an average of 40 hours per week from the start date of employment to the end date. This calculation needs to include the 14 day isolation period.
  • This is what is meant by “going by the SAWP contract”.
  • Other TFW Program obligations:  Workers employed under the Ag Stream Low Skill and Low Wage programs must be paid a minimum of 30 hours per week during the 14 day self-isolation period.

The OFVGA estimates that 8,000 seasonal and other temporary workers are currently working in Ontario, primarily in greenhouses. Another 13,400 workers were originally expected by mid-June.

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