Listowel Banner Local News News Wingham Advance Times

Huron Perth Public Health issues order to employers of migrant workers

“This order does not come as a result of issues identified with our farms, but rather serves as a legal mechanism to ensure the health and safety of workers,” says Klassen

HURON-PERTH – In an effort reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread on farms employing temporary foreign workers (TFWs) or migrant workers in Huron and Perth counties, Huron-Perth’s medical officer of health has issued a Section 22 order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

The order is effective from noon on Tuesday, June 30 and will remain in effect until further notice.

Farm workers have been deemed an essential part of our food supply chain and in recent weeks we have seen COVID-19 transmission and outbreaks occurring on farms throughout Ontario.

This order applies to all Huron and Perth farm owners, operators and temporary help agencies who employ migrant workers, including TFWs.

“I do want to point out, proper self-isolation and public health measures were already part of public health guidance provided to owners and operators,” said Dr. Miriam Klassen, medical officer of health for Huron-Perth.

“This order does not come as a result of issues identified with our farms, but rather serves as a legal mechanism to ensure the health and safety of workers is protected and HPPH guidance is followed.”

The chief medical officer of health for Ontario recommended medical officers of health consider issuing an order under Section 22 as a legal mechanism to ensure they are all doing everything they can to protect the health and wellbeing of TFW or migrant workers and residents.

The order requires employers of migrant workers, including those in the TFW program, to follow any direction provided to them by Huron Perth Public Health, including:

  • ensuring employees self-isolate as necessary, with proper supports in place;
  • ensuring employees work exclusively in one workplace;
  • ensuring public health measures are followed on the worksite;
  • ensuring that contact information is available, and that employees can communicate with HPPH if case and contact management is required; and
  • cooperation with HPPH staff where positive or suspect cases of COVID-19 are identified.

Access to health care for TFWs and migrant workers is now a requirement.

Klassen said there will be an escalating approach to dealing with farmers not following the order which will start with fines.

“All people who enter Canada at this time must self-isolate for two weeks and of course … anyone who has symptoms must self-isolate and identify close contacts,” said Klassen.

Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act authorizes the medical officer of health to issue a class order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to address the risks presented by the potential spread of communicable diseases. This includes the potential spread of COVID-19 to TFWs or migrant workers residing and working in Huron and Perth counties.

For a complete list of requirements, please visit hpph.ca/TFW to see the complete order.

As of June 30, there are 57 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Huron and Perth. There are currently no outbreaks in any facilities.

Colin Burrowes is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the Listowel Banner. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.