Windsor-Essex Moving To Stage 2, Thursday, Province Unveils 3-Point Plan For Farms

Wednesday June 24th, 2020

Posted at 1:23pm

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The province of Ontario is letting the Windsor-Essex region move to Stage 2, and the government has also released a three-point plan to control transmission of COVID-19 at farms.

Premier Doug Ford announced their cabinet will be convening to let Windsor Essex move to Stage 2 starting tomorrow, Thursday June 25th, at 12:01am. Ford says Kingsville and Leamington will be excluded however.

Stage 2 allows the reopening of personal care services such as hair salons, beauty salons, day spas, piercings and tattoos, restaurants and bars in outdoor areas, shopping malls, film and tv production, tour and guide services, and others.

The province is also implementing a three-point plan to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 on farms and throughout the community.

Details of the plan were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“We are doing everything we can to help Windsor-Essex contain this virus and get back on track, so we can allow local businesses to reopen and get more people back to work,” said Premier Ford. “Clearly, our agricultural sector in this part of the province is being hit particularly hard. Our three-point plan will give farmers the support they need to protect essential workers and ensure they can keep putting food safely on our tables.”

The province says the plan’s three points are as follows:

  1. Ongoing and expanded on-site testing
    Ontario is continuing to facilitate on-site testing at agri-food businesses and community assessment centres to make proactive testing more timely and accessible. About 350 asymptomatic workers have been tested at their work site since on-site testing launched this past weekend. Ontario is currently engaging employers to schedule more mobile testing on farms. Early identification of workers who are not showing symptoms, but who may be infected with COVID-19, will help reduce the potential spread of the virus in the workplace and the community.
  2. Access to Employment Benefits and Supports
    Temporary foreign workers are entitled to the same benefits and protections as any other worker in Ontario. That includes workers’ compensation benefits, which are administered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). It also includes protections afforded by the Employment Standards Act. Under Ontario’s new infectious disease emergency leave provisions, a worker’s job is protected while they take unpaid leave due to COVID-19.In certain cases, temporary foreign workers may also be eligible to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). To access the federal benefit, workers must have earned $5,000 in the last 12 months or in the previous year.
  3. New Public Health Guidance
    The Chief Medical Officer of Health will issue new public health guidance allowing positive asymptomatic workers to continue working as long as they follow the public health measures in their workplace to minimize the risk of transmission to others. This guidance will provide clarity and assurance that local public health officials will assist with interpreting test results and developing a plan that, first and foremost, ensures essential workers in the sector are able to return to work safely and meet the business-critical operational needs on a case-by-case basis.

“By providing both farmers and employees with economic certainty, this three-point plan will allow the rapid scaling up of testing in agri-food sector workplaces across the region,” said Minister Elliott. “These targeted actions build on the collaborative and comprehensive response already in progress and will allow us to better identify and isolate cases so we can move this region into Stage 2 and safely reopen.”

“The safety of workers on farms and in greenhouses across the province is critically important as we work to overcome COVID-19,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “They work incredibly hard to support our farmers as they plant, harvest and process the good things that grow here in Ontario. It is critical that we step up our efforts at this challenging time to protect these essential workers and ensure our local produce gets to market.”

“A worker’s passport does not determine how they are treated in our system,” said Minister McNaughton. “That’s not the Ontario way. If you’re working in this province, I want you to know that your health and safety is a priority for our government.”

The full list of businesses that can reopen under Stage 2 can be found on the province’s website.

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