Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau rises during a sitting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau rises during a sitting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Feds reveal details of $35M fund to help make farms safer in COVID-19 pandemic

The program will be applied retroactively to cover any COVID-19-related costs from March 15

Some Canadian farmers can now apply for emergency funding to protect their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Monday.

A $35-million program first announced at the end of July will subsidize farms’ purchases of personal protective equipment and sanitary stations and it will help to cover extra costs in cases of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The government will cover 50 per cent of the costs under the program and 60 per cent if a farm is owned by women or youths.

“Our government will continue to support farmers and (food) processors,” Bibeau said Monday.

“They are key partners in Canada sustainable economy recovery.”

Farmers in Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and the Northwest Territories can apply. Bibeau said the government will announce programs that will be managed by the other provinces in the coming weeks.

Wearing N95 masks has been standard at grain farms since before COVID-19, because farmers deal with dust and rodents around some of the bins, said Keith Degenhardt, the vice-president of Alberta Federation of Agriculture. So the pandemic brought a shock.

“We saw the price on personal protection equipment increased,” said Degenhardt, who runs a crop and cow-calf farm with his family close to Wainwright, Alta.

The program will be applied retroactively to cover any COVID-19-related costs between March 15 and the end of next February, Bibeau said.

She said the program can apply equally to Canadian or migrant farm workers and it will prioritize farms at the highest risk of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The number of workers and the amount of space they have in their workplaces and housing facilities will be key elements in identifying farms at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, Bibeau said.

Last month, the government launched a $77.5-million program to help Canadian food processors respond to the safety needs of their workers.

Lynn Jacobson, the president of Alberta Federation of Agriculture, said it’s important to understand that farmers have different operations and are affected differently by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some large farms with temporary foreign workers have faced extra costs for housing and separation of people.

“A lot of the farmers have bunkhouse-style housing because people are there for three months, four months, five months,” he said. “It’s very very hard to separate people with that type of accommodation.”

Jacobson said some farmers had to accommodate one person per room instead of four per room.

“Those types of things are issues, and they cost quite a bit of money,” he says.

Bibeau said the new program is built to support temporary foreign workers on farms too.

“We are strengthening the employer-inspections regime and developing improved employer-provided living accommodation requirements for migrant workers,” she said. “We care deeply about the well-being of migrant workers.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct 5, 2020.

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusFarming

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VicPD is warning the public after a man paid $460 for fake gold jewelry. (Unsplash)
Police issue warning after Victoria man pays $460 for fake gold jewelry

Suspects flagged victim down and took him to ATM

The Sooke Christmas Bureau, which serves over 400 hampers to families and residents in need, has extended their deadline to include anyone in need that has missed their Dec. 1 cutoff. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke Christmas Bureau extends deadline for hampers

Non-profit group says monetary donations goes further than non-perishables

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre likely won’t be hosting a farmer’s market originally scheduled for Central Saanich after all after municipal staff in Sidney did not issue the necessary license.
Proposed farmer’s market for Sidney likely to be cancelled

Market was scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5 in the parking lot of Mary Winspear Centre

Traffic will be affected as View Royal does road work from Dec. 3 to Dec. 5 on the Island Highway at Wilfert Road. (Image courtesy Town of View Royal)
Road work hinders traffic in View Royal on Island Highway at Wilfert Road

Work scheduled for Dec. 3 to 5, weather dependent

Carmen Robinson was last seen getting off a bus in View Royal the evening of Dec. 8, 1973. Her case remains unsolved 47 years later. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Gone cold: Fate of View Royal teen remains a mystery, 47 years after her disappearance

Carmen Robinson, 17, was last seen exiting a bus in View Royal in December 1973

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Jon Lefebure went back to construction after losing the 2018 mayor’s post in North Cowichan to work on the Cottages On Willow. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Former Island mayor retools priorities with construction project

Fresh air a benefit and satisfaction results from building eight-unit housing complex in Chemainus

Most Read