'These investments are supporting their efforts to protect the health and well-being of workers so they can continue supplying good food for Canadians'
The federal government is investing $6.1 million through the Emergency Processing Fund (EPF) to help 34 food processing companies in southwestern Ontario keep their workers safe and the food supply chain running strong.
“Known as one of Canada’s richest farm belts, southwestern Ontario is an agricultural powerhouse. Despite the many challenges caused by the pandemic, local food producers and processors have shown true resilience,” said Neil Ellis, parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture and agri-food.
“These investments are supporting their efforts to protect the health and well-being of workers so they can continue supplying good food for Canadians and people around the world.”
There are approximately 2,000 food processing companies in Ontario, supporting 85,000 jobs and driving more than $40 billion in sales and over $11 billion in exports annually.
The funding can be used to make adjustments to enable social distancing, purchase reusable personal protective equipment (PPE), implement biosecurity measures, install handwashing stations and protective barriers and develop employee training.
Recipients include Lakeside Produce Inc., which is receiving up to $1,172,632, and Under Sun Acres Inc., which is receiving up to $149,034.
“Lakeside greatly appreciates the support which was extended to us. This is indeed a true justification of ‘We are in this together’,” said Sudeshna Nambiar, COO, Lakeside Produce Inc.
“Under Sun Acres’ Biosecurity Room provides a wall of security for our facility against viruses and disease. The Emergency Processing Fund allowed this project to come to fruition and we are very thankful for the support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,” said Lucas Semple, general manager, Under Sun Acres Inc.
Launched in June 2020, the $77.5-million EPF is helping food processors implement measures to protect the health and safety of workers and their families in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with an emphasis on supporting meat processing facilities in Canada. The fund also supports facility upgrades to help strengthen Canada's food supply. A further $10 million is expected to be allocated from internal funds, which would bring the total to $87.5 million.
To date, the EPF has provided up to $32.5 million for a total of 188 projects in Ontario.
Today’s announcement builds on other measures introduced to keep Canada's agri-workforce strong, including:
- almost $85 million in funding for the Mandatory Isolation Support Program for Temporary Foreign Workers to assist Canadian employers with some of the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed under the Quarantine Act on temporary foreign workers upon entering Canada; and,
- a $35-million Emergency On-Farm Support Fund to boost protections for domestic and temporary foreign workers and address COVID-19 outbreaks on farms, which have benefit workers in Ontario, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, among others.