Government program will help keep farm workers safe during the pandemic
STONEY CREEK, Ont. — Ontario’s agriculture community was rocked during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic this past spring as the virus swept through workers in the fields.
Between March and the end of June, more than 600 Ontario farm workers contracted the virus, and three died. In an effort to prevent a similar situation from arising in the autumn and winter, the Ontario government has introduced the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program. With $15 million from the province and $11.6 from the federal government available, this program is intended to offset some of the costs faced by farmers as they implement proper protocols and processes to combat the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of their workers.
“Farmers are the protectors of our food security and sovereignty, and we have to make sure they come through the pandemic in good shape,” says Dave Hachey, President of Ogena Solutions. “Implementing health and safety measures comes with a cost, and this government program is an opportunity for farmers to improve their protocols, protect workers and defray some of the cost. It’s vital that farmers are aware of the support that is available to them.”
The program, which may cover 70 per cent of a farmer’s costs of up to $15,000, includes funding for:
- Upgrades to work spaces, worker housing or worker transportation systems to ensure appropriate safety with regards to physical distancing needs (e.g., physical barriers).
- Providing workers with personal protective equipment and other approved safety supplies.
- Cleaning and disinfection throughout the farm, including worker housing or worker transportation systems.
- Supporting worker accommodations and work-site mobility that are necessary to address an immediate health and safety issue
Funding from the program is retroactive to purchases made since March 15, 2020.
“Physical barriers to enforce distancing, masks and other PPE and monitoring devices like thermometers are hugely important to preventing the spread of COVID-19,” says Mr. Hachey. “But they‘re just a part of the solution. A workplace needs to be clean and sanitized. Proper cleaning with the effective disinfectants is an important step to preventing the spread of the virus.”
Effective pathogen control on the farm requires proper protocols, dedicated equipment and a Health Canada approved disinfectant. Working with a company that specializes in all three is a big step towards success.
In addition Ogena has new patented equipment available on a pre-order basis that kills more than 90 per cent of pathogens in the air, something that will help bunkhouses and other facilities 24 hours a day.
Based in Stoney Creek, Ont., Ogena Solutions is a leading provider of effective, environmentally friendly biosecurity solutions, equipment and protocols that have made great inroads into the implementation of groundbreaking improvements in biosecurity protocols in the animal health sector.