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COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Updates

New E-commerce Support from the Government of Canada and Ontario

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $2.5 million to help the agri-food sector expand online, providing more opportunities for producers to grow their business during the COVID-19 outbreak. This targeted application intake features 2 funding streams: Bring Your Business Online. Eligible organizations and businesses can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to establish an online e-business and marketing presence. Develop Online Business Opportunities. Eligible organizations, businesses and collaborations can apply for cost-share funding of up to $75,000 to implement high-impact projects. More information and the program guidelines can be found online.

Increased Access to Labour

The government has recently announced a new investment of up to $1 million to connect workers with jobs in the agri-food sector. The goal of this program is to help primary agriculture, food processing and grocery retail businesses to recruit and train workers. This targeted intake through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership is open and eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis while funding is available. Click here for more information and to apply online.

Preparing to Reopen the Province of Ontario

Ontario is planning for the next phase of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak – reopening the province. Details on the government’s plan can be found on their website.

Ontario health and safety guidelines for Workplaces

The Ontario government works closely with four provincial health and safety associations (HSAs) to help set, communicate and enforce the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, the HSAs have released a series of more than 50 technical sector guidance documents to further support employers and employees in remaining safe in the workplace during the COVID-19 outbreak. To access these documents, click here.

Destination Inspection Services Prioritized 

The CFIA might soon be announcing that Destination Inspection Services (DIS) will be prioritized to ensure the most essential inspections can be completed in a reasonable time. More information will be provided by the DRC as it becomes available. 

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Releases list of  Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Resources 

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has released a document outlining the various programs put forth by the Government of Canada that are available to the agriculture sector in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The full list can be found here

Government of Canada updates mandatory requirements for travellers entering Canada

An update to the Quarantine Act requires essential workers crossing the border to wear a non-medical mask or face covering. CBSA will provide a mask if they do not have one. No driver will be prevented from entering Canada as a result of this policy.

Message from the CBSA Regarding CARM

CBSA will be cancelling their monthly Trade Chain Partner Working Group and Sub Working Group meetings for the remainder of April and May. They will provide updates before the end of May on whether these meetings will resume in June. 

Additionally, the CARM solution will not deploy in the Summer of 2021. Project plans are being reviewed and the CBSA will provide updates on further employment dates. Please visit the CBSA website for more information. 

The OPMA is working with CBSA to provide a webinar with updates for members in the fall when dates and future plans have been established.

Connecting Growers with Wholesale Grocery Services During COVID-19 

The Government of Canada has provided a set of guidelines for employers of Temporary Foreign Workers regarding COVID-19. Top on the list is the requirement that workers remain in self-isolation for 14 days once they enter Canada. This means that they cannot leave their place of employment as they traditionally have to buy their own groceries.

Several growers who are OPMA members have expressed their concern over not being able to purchase enough groceries at their local supermarkets. They are interested in buying in bulk from a company that can supply them and deliver the groceries to their respective farms.

The OPMA has spoken with Gordon Food Service about this issue and they have agreed to work with Ontario farms to bring them a full range of groceries. For more information contact Mac Myers at mac.myers@gfs.com or on 905-730-1673.

If you are a grower and find yourself in this situation, please visit the OPMA membership directory to find companies that can assist you in the purchasing of bulk fruits and vegetables.

Public Health Ontario Updates

The Government of Ontario has a whole page dedicated to answering all of your COVID-19 health-related questions. Their website can be accessed here.

A daily scan from a variety of public health organizations can be found here.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program Updates

Stay up to date with the latest information regarding changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

The Federal Government is also updating a list of frequently asked questions which can be found here.

Support for Businesses

Avoiding layoffs and rehiring employees:

Deferred Payments

A full list of resources can be found here.

Amendment to List of Essential Services in Ontario

The Government of Ontario has updated the list of businesses classified as essential. The amended emergency order includes:

“29.1 Construction projects that are due to be completed before October 4, 2020 and that would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products. The above amendment is effective immediately.”

The updated order is available here.

Ontario Food Terminal Protocol Update

The Ontario Food Terminal is implementing new protocols as of April 14, 2020, for buyers at the Terminal.

These are part of their continued and widespread efforts to keep people safe and keep the Ontario Food Terminal operating during these extraordinary times. The protocols include a new buyer viewing corridor in the Farmers’ Market area and temperature checks and screening upon entry to the Terminal, as well as their ongoing policies to limit direct personal contact and preventive measure to reduce the spread of illness.

A copy of the protocol can be found on the OFT website.

Government of Ontario Food and Agriculture Job Board

In order to ensure grocery store shelves remain full and families have food on the table during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government of Ontario is launching a new web portal, connecting workers with employers looking to fill positions in the agri-food sector. This new online tool will make it easier to match people to essential jobs and training resources throughout the provincial food supply chain.

The job board can be found here.

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