At a news conference this week, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said temporary foreign workers will be allowed entry into Canada after self-isolation for 14 days. However, a senior cabinet minister said today that the allowance refers to workers coming over the Canada-US border only.
We are still awaiting specific details from the federal government in regard to its Seasonal Agricultural Workers program.
In a press release, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers called for an adjustment in the newly invoked travel restrictions that were put in place this week.
“The new rules put in place to combat COVID-19 are necessarily far reaching, but have also put our food value chain at risk,” the group said in a statement.
It is estimated that Canada needs approximately 60,000 foreign workers for the agriculture sector, over 1,400 specifically for oilseed and grain farming. Most of the TFWs hired for grain farming bring expertise and experience which has been in short supply in rural areas.
“All the same self-isolation measures should continue to be in place for any TFW coming into the country, similar to any Canadian that is returning to Canada,” said Kenton Possberg, Saskatchewan Director. “The challenge is that many remote grain farms cannot operate without Temporary Foreign Workers as a part of their crew. The importance of our food value chain cannot be under-estimated for both our domestic or international markets.”
Seeding season is just around the corner and cannot be delayed. It is imperative that the federal government address this issue immediately, the news release went on to say.