Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) reports that it has seen more than 700 COVID-19 claims across several farms in the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions.
The data suggests that certain areas have experienced a sharp surge in infection rates. Of the farms identified by the WSIB, the one with the greatest number of registered COVID-19 claims is Nature Fresh Farms in Leamington, with 197 registered claims.
CBC News reported that Nature Fresh Farms was temporarily shut down in July after almost 200 employees tested positive for the coronavirus.
The second highest number of COVID-19 claims among the farms came from Agriville Farms in Kingsville, at 146, followed by Green Hill Produce in Thamesville, at 105.
Pandemic-related cases among agricultural workers have accounted for almost half of all the cases reported in Windsor-Essex, WSIB said, adding that the majority of the cases were recorded among migrant workers.
CBC News reached out to the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) for a statement on the issue. But the OGVG said that it did not want to speculate on the nature of the claims, or when those claims occurred.
As of August 13, 2020, WSIB reported eight new cases in Windsor-Essex – half of which involved agri-farm workers. The agency also reported four more outbreaks in the agriculture sector – two in Kingsville, another two in Leamington.