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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo releases his new single, Christine, on Oct. 30. (Photo courtesy Andrew Dodd)
Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo evokes return to good times with new single

Upcoming release ‘Christine’ among a dozen new songs written during pandemic

Premier John Horgan heads to his ride following his announcement that there will be a fall election as he speaks during a press conference in Langford in September. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)
Editorial: Majority needs to work for all British Columbians

Concepts of co-operation change as we go from an NDP minority to a majority

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who rammed a police car to escape an arrest attempt. (File photo)
Drug trafficking suspect rams police vehicle in Nanaimo and escapes arrest

Suspect still at large after fleeing from police in Harewood on Friday afternoon

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health chief medical health officer, immunizes Victoria Schmid, Island Health’s vice-president of pandemic planning. (Submitted photo)
Island Health advising people to get a flu shot

People looking to get vaccinated should book an appointment, says Island Health

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Most Read