The province is working with the federal government to determine an effective way to vaccinate seasonal agricultural workers
By Jackie Clark
The government of Ontario is exploring options for vaccinating temporary foreign workers against COVID-19.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the associate chief medical officer of health for Ontario, was recently quoted saying that if the federal government does not offer vaccination to workers upon arrival in Canada, the province likely will.
“Our government is in continued discussions with the federal government on the most effective way to provide vaccinations and the needed language and cultural supports for workers participating in the federal Seasonal Agricultural Worker program,” Christa Roettele, spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), told Farms.com. “We are exploring all options, including airport vaccinations, to ensure that temporary foreign workers have access to the vaccines.”
The second phase of vaccine rollout is “expected to begin April 2021, depending on availability of vaccines from the federal government,” she added. “Phase two includes people who live and work in congregate settings as well as workers who cannot work from home, including agriculture, farm and food processing workers. Public Health Units are responsible for administering vaccinations.”
Though OMAFRA looks forward to vaccines, it is still important to follow public health measures to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19 on farms and other agricultural workplaces, Roettele said.
OMAFRA and Workplace Safety and Prevention Services are “hosting a series of webinars on health and safety to help farmers and other agri-food operators better protect workers' health and safety and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks,” she added. “These webinars will help farmers and operators understand health and safety requirements and apply best practices in their operations.”
Farms.com reached out to the Ministry of Health who declined to comment.