$ 7.5 million to make Quebec farms safer

$ 7.5 million to make Quebec farms safer

Minister Bibeau unveiled the Quebec terms of the Emergency Fund for farm support measures, which represents $ 7.5 million for Quebec.

Share November 4, 2020 6:51 a.m. Share $ 7.5 M to make Quebec farms safer$ 7.5 million to make Quebec farms safer

Jasmine Rondeau Local Journalism Initiative – La Tribune Quebec agricultural producers will finally benefit from $ 7.5M to better protect their workers in a pandemic context, i.e. one fifth of the $ 35M budget allocated by the federal government to the Emergency Fund for farm support measures. And it is women, young people and under-represented groups who stand to gain the most.

Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau unveiled the Quebec terms of this program on Tuesday, along with Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, André Lamontagne. She announced in particular that requests for assistance could be submitted from December 14 to the Financière agricole du Québec, the entity designated to administer this program.

Minister Bibeau estimates that around 1,000 producers will be able to benefit from this aid, either for the improvement of housing and workstations for workers, the purchase of personal protective equipment, hygiene facilities or other health and safety measures. Extraordinary costs associated with a COVID-19 outbreak are also eligible.

This is retroactive assistance, which can be applied to expenses that were made between March 15, 2020 and February 26, 2021.

Producers will be able to obtain reimbursement of up to 2% of declared wages or 50% of eligible claims, with the exception of women, young people or under-represented groups who are majority owners: these may receive 2.4 % of salaries or 60% of their expenses.

$ 7.5 million to make Quebec farms safer

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Member of Parliament for Compton-Stanstead. Photo archives La Tribune

“It goes without saying that all agricultural workers should feel safe. And as it was said in the throne speech, the Canadian and migrant producers who produce, cultivate and process our food deserve the protection and the full support of the government, ”said Ms. Bibeau.

On Monday, Minister Bibeau also announced the extension until November 30 of the Assistance Program for the Mandatory Isolation of Temporary Foreign Workers, which allows employers in the agriculture, fishing, production and food processing obtain a maximum assistance of $ 1,500 per worker in quarantine.

While producers were already living with a labor problem, Canada was only able to receive 85% of the foreign workers it had welcomed on the same date last year. Many health and safety issues have plagued this harvest season, including the death of three migrant workers in Ontario after they were infected with COVID19.

Last June, the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change published a report denouncing the unsafe working conditions in which many foreign workers found themselves. The organization denounced the inaction of governments in the face of complaints made on behalf of more than 1,000 workers who feared for their health. The document denounced in particular the difficult conditions during the quarantine of several new arrivals, during which it was not possible to practice social distancing, to have access to adequate food, to information on the situation or to the salary. promised 30 hours per week.

Many complaints also concerned the conditions in which the workers lived even after their quarantine was over. There was talk of overcrowded and messy housing and a ban on going out. An increase in cases of racism from employers or neighboring communities, often linked to fear of contracting the virus, had also been raised.

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