Good afternoon everyone,
It is with great disappointment that Windsor-Essex will be held in Stage 1 for at least another week. Windsor and the rural and agricultural towns in Essex County have now joined migrant farm workers as collateral damage in Doug Ford’s failed policies to handle the COVID-19 crisis in Ontario.
Back in March, Greenhouse Canada was warning of the need to prepare workplaces in advance of COVID. Farm workers began testing positive back in April. Public Health experts said we needed an enhanced testing regime in order to get ahead of the outbreak. The Premier didn’t provide the extra resources and leadership required.
There was no “iron ring” protecting our loved ones in long term care homes and there was no ring of any kind offered for the migrant worker population and as a result our region is the only one in Ontario still stuck in Stage One of a recovery program.
In spite of the sacrifices we have all made to flatten the curve, our efforts in Windsor – Essex have not been matched by the Ford Government.
Temporary Foreign Workers are here under Federal and Provincial programs, but the senior levels of government need to work more closely with their municipal partners in developing a workable solution, a strategy to deal with the outbreak within the farms and greenhouses, so the rest of the region can get back on the road to an economic recovery.
The Premier needs to take the lead on this immediately, by bringing community leaders together with the Public Health Unit, to plot a reasonable path to recovery. There has to be a middle ground, a common sense approach that will protect public health but not punish struggling businesses and communities anxious to begin recovering from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 closures.
The Premier holds the key. He’s locked us down. He needs to step up with the funding, provide the resources needed for mass testing and work with the employers on ways to safely isolate those who test positive with the virus.
The Federal Minister of Agriculture said back in March that employers who fail to follow Federal and Provincial guidelines could lose their rights to bring in foreign workers in the future. We’ve known since March we were headed for trouble – let’s finally take whatever steps are necessary to get out of it.
A reminder that the June 27 Miracle is taking place next weekend. Please have perishable food items on your doorsteps between 12-4pm for pickup. More information on the drive can be found here.
There were 32 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases up to 1,329. The total number of deaths is 68.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced $15 million, in collaboration with the federal government, for an Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Program. This funding will help farmers purchase PPE and increase safety measures. There will also be a PPE directory for farmers to source masks and gloves.
Federal inspectors and local health officials are also to begin joint farm inspections, in addition to the 230 inspections that have already been performed to review the working and living conditions of temporary foreign workers.
The Prime Minister announced that the Canadian Workplace Health and Safety Centre has published public health information on COVID-19. A new online portal has also been launched, where businesses can share their experience and best practices regarding sanitary provisions and download tip sheets that are sector specific. You can find those here.
Please continue to wash your hands, practice social distancing and wear your mask when out in public.