Local health unit issues order for migrant farm workers in Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland, and Haliburton

Section 22 class order intended to help prevent spread of COVID-19 among temporary farm workers on local farms

Migrant farm workers picking strawberries. (Stock photo)

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit issued an order on Thursday (July 9) to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among migrant workers on farms in Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland, and Haliburton.

The order was made under Section 22 of Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act, which allows a medical officer of health to issue orders related to communicable diseases.

The health unit sent the order, which took effect at 12 p.m. on Thursday (July 9), to all owners and operators of agricultural farms that employ migrant farm workers, participate in the federal temporary farm worker program, or operate any model of seasonal housing accommodations.

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“While we have not seen large COVID-19 outbreaks at farms in our area, the health unit is taking this step to help further reduce the risk to the people working in our area farms and the residents of our community,” says medical officer of health Dr. Lynn Noseworthy.

Ontario has seen continued COVID-19 outbreaks among migrant workers, especially in Windsor-Essex. On Thursday, Ontario reported 170 new COVID-19 cases, of which 86 were from Windsor-Essex as a result of increased testing of temporary farm workers.

Under the health unit’s order, all owners and operators of agricultural farms in Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland, and Haliburton must follow a number of actions, including:

  • Notifying the health unit when migrant and/or temporary farm workers will be arriving at the farm.
  • Ensuring that all current and future employees are working exclusively at one workplace. Employees or contracted employees who are employed at more than one agricultural farm operation must immediately limit this to one farm.
  • Ensuring that all temporary farm workers who have arrived in Canada are in quarantine for 14 days from the date of arrival in Canada as per the Quarantine Act and that no temporary farm worker works on any farm until after the completion of the quarantine period.
  • Ensuring that temporary farm workers in quarantine are in accommodations that have been inspected by the health unit and has provisions for laundry and cleaning. Owners and operators are also required to ensure grocery supplies and/or meals are provided to temporary farm workers in quarantine.
  • Following any directions provided by the health unit pertaining to COVID-19, including adherence to self-isolation orders issued to employees, ensuring that public health measures are maintained at all times in the workplace, and supporting all aspects of investigations related to communicable diseases conducted by the health unit.

The complete order is available below.

While the health unit says most owners and operators of agricultural farms have been compliant with requirements, Dr. Noseworthy says the order provides the health unit with a proactive legal measure to strengthen its ability to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure the health of essential food workers.

“We have been working closely with our farm operators throughout the pandemic response and we are pleased that we have not seen outbreaks similar to those experienced in other parts of the province,” Dr. Noseworthy says. “If we all continue to work together, we can keep each other safe.”

For more information about the order, visit the health unit’s website at www.hkpr.on.ca or call 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.

PDF: Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit Section 22 Class Order on Migrant Farm Workers
Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit Section 22 Class Order on Migrant Farm Workers

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