A vulnerability of Canada’s agriculture and food system has become apparent with the fallout from the coronavirus. Much of the crop, especially within the horticultural sector, cannot be planted, let alone harvested, without international migrant workers.
Upwards of 40,000 are employed on farms and many others work for Canadian food processors.
As of Thursday morning, March 19, Ken Forth with the Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Service (F.A.R.M.S.) and Bill George, chair of the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) said a decision had yet to be made as to whether migrant workers from Mexico, the Caribbean and other countries will be allowed into Canada.
“I happen to be at the centre of this and it’s not on. As of this moment, it is not on,” Forth said.
Forth and George, however, have not given up hope that a solution can be found. With the spring planting season already underway, a brief has been sent to members of the federal cabinet outlining a plan to bring in workers and also manage their health status.