|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 18, 2020|
SIMCOE — Given the importance of Temporary Foreign Workers, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett was pleased provincial and federal support will be given to agriculture producers with international workers from Trinidad and Tobago who are currently unable to return home.
“Funding available for the 400 stranded farm workers from Trinidad and Tobago will assist farmers to provide housing, meals, winter clothing, heaters, PPE and other necessities, including internet, to assist workers in keeping touch with home as Christmas nears,” Barrett said.
Approximately 400 farm workers from Trinidad and Tobago who came to Ontario under the federal Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program are currently unable to return home as they haven’t received COVID-19 travel exemptions from their home country. These international workers assisted with growing and harvesting our food and helped keep the food supply chain strong throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the federal government is working with consular officials to resolve the issue as soon as possible, farmers continue to be responsible for supporting workers and providing housing until they leave to return to their home country. The federal government is working directly with employees, employers and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to ensure that the immigration status of affected workers is extended. In addition, the Government of Canada is ensuring workers are aware of the federal benefits available to them and helping them complete the necessary paperwork.
“Together with our federal partners, our government is taking action to help Trinidadian and Tobagonian workers by making funding available to assist farmers in providing housing, meals, winter clothing and other necessities,” Minister Hardeman said. “It will also provide funding for some communications, such as internet, to help workers contact their families as we approach the holidays.”
To expedite payments, the provincial and federal governments are working to add a targeted, special category of funding under the federal-provincial Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program that will help farmers cover incremental costs incurred to ensure the health and safety of stranded temporary foreign workers from Trinidad and Tobago. Eligible expenses would include accommodations, meals, winter clothing, heaters, equipment, PPE, cleaning supplies, communications, and transportation costs. Following the extension of their immigration statuses by the federal government, OHIP coverage has also been expended to assist these workers.
“I want to thank everyone who has helped our international workers over the last few weeks, and I hope that our communities will continue to support them through this difficult time,” Hardeman said. “Our hearts go out to these stranded workers who may not be able to get home for the holidays.”
Ministry staff will contact eligible farmers with more details. In the meantime, farmers can contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre for more information at 1-877-424-1300 or [email protected].
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]