The federal government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario have enhanced the AgriInsurance program for the 2020 growing season – which now includes coverage for labour shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario farmers already enrolled in an eligible production insurance plan who suffer from crop losses due to a shortage in labour during the 2020 growing season will have access to the enhanced coverage through Agricorp. The added insurance coverage will include:
- Inability to attract sufficient on-farm labour due to COVID-19; and
- Illness or quarantine of on-farm labour and the producer due to COVID-19.
Farmers will be expected to notify Agricorp as soon as possible if they experience any labour shortages caused by the pandemic that are causing crop losses.
In an online statement, Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said that the province’s agriculture industry – particularly farms growing fruits and vegetables – are labour intensive and dependent on seasonal agricultural workers.
However, the pandemic has interrupted the flow of worker travel, resulting in gaps in labour availability. The ministry added that this has also led to some crops being unharvested and financial loss for the agri-food industry.
The federal government made a commitment on May 05 to work with the provinces and territories to consider additional possibilities for expanding the AgriInsurance program to include labour shortages as an eligible risk for the horticulture sector.
“During these exceptional times, we fully appreciate just how essential our agri-food workers are to our entire food supply chain,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Our Government has been working hard with the provinces and agri-food businesses to ensure those workers have a safe workplace so they can continue putting food on our tables.”
Bibeau also congratulated Ontario for being the first province to take the initiative on addressing the labour shortage issue.
“We recognize that this terrible virus has created new business pressures and increased uncertainty for farmers, which is why we are taking action to ensure farmers have the resources they need to address today’s challenges,” added Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “By enhancing AgriInsurance coverage to include labour shortages due to COVID-19 for eligible farmers, we are directly responding to their requests for support and protecting Ontario’s agri-food sector so it can continue producing the food our province needs.”