Lisa Gretzky MPP, for Windsor West

Government of Ontario

Ford must rush support to migrant worker and agricultural COVID-19 outbreaks: NDP

Published on June 2, 2020

NIAGARA — NDP Workplace Health and Safety critic Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) and Ethics and Accountability critic Taras Natyshak (Essex) called on the Ford government to provide immediate resources to COVID-19 hotspots in the agricultural sector, where significant outbreaks of COVID-19 have occurred among migrant and contract agricultural workers. Troubling reports from local public health units have detailed outbreaks in the Niagara Region, Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent, Norfolk County and Elgin County.

“My heart is heavy on behalf of those who are sick, many of them far from their homes and  families,” Gates said. “Premier Doug Ford needs to immediately deploy resources to hotspots, and in the agricultural sector, that must include mobile testing units, local motel or hotel facilities for isolation, personal protective equipment, and ensured access to clean water and sanitation.”

Reports of workplace outbreaks have included as many as 100 agricultural workers in Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent, and another 120 workers in Norfolk County. It is now being reported that a temporary foreign worker in Windsor-Essex, a man in his thirties, has died form the virus.

Gates stressed that workers should have been better protected, saying that crowded bunk-housing conditions should have been addressed by the province earlier to stop the spread.

Natyshak said Premier Doug Ford needs to make sure employers are given the resources to follow public health advice. 

"Hard-hit agribusinesses need support to stop these hot spots from spreading like wildfire through our farms and communities,” said Natyshak. 

“These are essential front-line workers playing a role in critical food supply chain businesses. They need personal protective equipment, sanitizing stations, and the ability to self-isolate to stop the spread of COVID-19. This kind of help is long, long overdue, but it’s not too late to protect the workers who are still healthy, and protect an important part of our regional economy and provincial food supply.”