Last March, the Canadian government exempted temporary foreign workers (TFWs) from border-closing measures to maintain food security across the country. One year later, the government is once again ensuring the timely arrival of foreign agricultural workers by excusing them from an otherwise mandatory three-day quarantine at their point of entry. Currently, all other people arriving in Canada on international flights must quarantine themselves for three days in government-authorized accommodations (GAA).
In a press release issued by Economic and Social Development Canada, the government outlined a two-pronged approach to quarantine requirements for TFWs. As of March 21, asymptomatic TFWs can go directly to their place of quarantine after taking a COVID-19 test at the airport, provided they travel by private transportation and are accompanied only by others who travelled with them to Canada. The aim is to make sure employers and TFWs are not forced to assume incremental costs associated with the three-day quarantine requirement at the point of entry. TFWs who arrive without having private transportation will be required to stay in a GAA and await the results of a COVID-19 test.
“Foreign agricultural workers are absolutely essential to the successful operations of our farms, our food plants, and, as a result, our food security,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food. “We are doing everything necessary so they can arrive as scheduled, and in a way that is safe for their health and the health of Canadians.”
Approximately 50,000 to 60,000 foreign agricultural workers arrive each year in Canada, including over 16,000 destined for Quebec. The government hopes such accommodations for TFWs will help to alleviate some of the chaos experienced last year, as farmers were forced to contend with delayed arrivals and worker shortages early in the season.