Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau rises during a sitting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau rises during a sitting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Feds reveal details of $35M fund to help make farms safer in COVID-19 pandemic

The program will be applied retroactively to cover any COVID-19-related costs from March 15

Some Canadian farmers can now apply for emergency funding to protect their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Monday.

A $35-million program first announced at the end of July will subsidize farms’ purchases of personal protective equipment and sanitary stations and it will help to cover extra costs in cases of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The government will cover 50 per cent of the costs under the program and 60 per cent if a farm is owned by women or youths.

“Our government will continue to support farmers and (food) processors,” Bibeau said Monday.

“They are key partners in Canada sustainable economy recovery.”

Farmers in Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and the Northwest Territories can apply. Bibeau said the government will announce programs that will be managed by the other provinces in the coming weeks.

Wearing N95 masks has been standard at grain farms since before COVID-19, because farmers deal with dust and rodents around some of the bins, said Keith Degenhardt, the vice-president of Alberta Federation of Agriculture. So the pandemic brought a shock.

“We saw the price on personal protection equipment increased,” said Degenhardt, who runs a crop and cow-calf farm with his family close to Wainwright, Alta.

The program will be applied retroactively to cover any COVID-19-related costs between March 15 and the end of next February, Bibeau said.

She said the program can apply equally to Canadian or migrant farm workers and it will prioritize farms at the highest risk of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The number of workers and the amount of space they have in their workplaces and housing facilities will be key elements in identifying farms at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, Bibeau said.

Last month, the government launched a $77.5-million program to help Canadian food processors respond to the safety needs of their workers.

Lynn Jacobson, the president of Alberta Federation of Agriculture, said it’s important to understand that farmers have different operations and are affected differently by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some large farms with temporary foreign workers have faced extra costs for housing and separation of people.

“A lot of the farmers have bunkhouse-style housing because people are there for three months, four months, five months,” he said. “It’s very very hard to separate people with that type of accommodation.”

Jacobson said some farmers had to accommodate one person per room instead of four per room.

“Those types of things are issues, and they cost quite a bit of money,” he says.

Bibeau said the new program is built to support temporary foreign workers on farms too.

“We are strengthening the employer-inspections regime and developing improved employer-provided living accommodation requirements for migrant workers,” she said. “We care deeply about the well-being of migrant workers.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct 5, 2020.

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusFarming

Just Posted

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
Island First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

“We need to get to the root of what is actually happening with the RCMP and our communities”

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

Test positivity rates in Greater Victoria from April 23 to 29. (BC CDC data)
Leaked data shows View Royal top of COVID-19 list for Greater Victoria

View Royal mayor says week was a blip for the township, not the norm

The medical clinic building in Port McNeill. (Bill McQuarrie photo)
Solution pending to Port McNeill health care uncertainty?

The town appears to be ‘closer to a new and sustainable medical model for our town’

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

Carter Woods was first across the line at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Saturday in Altstadt, Germany. File photo
Cumberland mountain biker wins World Cup race in Germany

First Canadian on the podium since 2013

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

The Village on Third in Nanaimo won the Judges’ Choice award as top overall entry at the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards. (Photo submitted)
Top developments north of the Malahat honoured by Vancouver Island Real Estate Board

Nanaimo’s Village on Third takes top honour at VIREB Commercial Building Awards

Most Read