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COVID-19 - Information for the agriculture and agri-food industry

AAFC hosts COVID-19 information sharing calls with stakeholders every Wednesday at 12 pm EST. If you would like to participate, please email aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca.

Services and information

Financial support

COVID-19 specific programs for farmers, food processors and other businesses
Last updated 2020-07-13

Information for Industry

Answers about support for producers, processors and agri-food businesses facing hardship as a result of COVID-19
Last updated 2020-07-13

Step up to the plate – Help feed Canadians

How to take advantage of employment opportunities in the agriculture and agri-food sector

Workplace guidance

COVID-19 public health guidance for the sector, control plan checklist

Additional Information

The Government of Canada is taking action to support producers, processors and agri-food businesses facing hardship as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak.

For all questions regarding animal health and food inspections, please consult the Canada Food Inspection Agency’s COVID-19 website.

Federal resources for producers and businesses

Farm workers, jobs and temporary foreign workers

  • Conditions and obligations for temporary foreign workers

    The Government has lifted entry restrictions for temporary foreign workers coming into Canada. Details on these travel exemptions, as well as the associated protocols can be found on Employment and Social Development Canada's page.

    The maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been increased from 1 to 2 years. This will improve flexibility and reduce the administrative burden for employers, including those in food processing.

    Travellers, including Temporary Foreign Workers entering Canada, can use the ArriveCAN app to submit the COVID-19 information required at the border, reducing their wait time and minimizing contact, and stay up to date on the latest government information. Get the ArriveCAN app.

    As in years past, employers and their associations are responsible for organizing travel for temporary foreign workers. Employment and Social Development Canada has provided guidance on the obligations of employers of temporary foreign workers, including the payment of wages during the 14-day self isolation period, which can be found at:

    Employers are also expected to follow any unique guidelines established by the province in which they operate.

  • Assistance for employers of temporary foreign workers

    The Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program (MISTFWP) is a one-time $50-million program to help with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food supply in Canada by assisting the farming, fish harvesting, and food production and processing sectors. The MISTFWP will provide a maximum non-repayable contribution amount of $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker.

    The program will 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.

    Contact Information

    Email: aafc.MISP-PAIO.aac@canada.ca

    Telephone: 1-877-246-4682

  • Job portal: Step up to the plate — Help feed Canadians

    There is a strong need for workers on Canadian farms and in food processing businesses across the country right. Canadians, especially those whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19, are encouraged to apply for jobs in the food sector at Step up to the plate — Help feed Canadians.

    The entire food supply chain has been identified as critical infrastructure and the Government has lifted entry restrictions for temporary foreign workers coming into Canada during COVID-19.

  • Youth Employment and Skills Program

    The Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP) provides a wage subsidy to employers who hire youth for agricultural jobs. The program offers support for 50% of wages to a maximum of $14,000. Additionally, the program offers 100% of the costs of addressing employment barriers, including for relocation, to a maximum of $5,000.

    More information can be found on the Youth Employment and Skills Program page.

    Emergency On-Farm Support Fund (EOFSF)
    • Following the July 31st Government announcement of additional investments in measures to boost protections for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) and address COVID-19 outbreaks on farms, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) launched a new $35 million Emergency On-Farm Support Fund (EOFSF).
    • The program is intended to support immediate needs related to changes required on farms to ensure the health and safety of domestic and temporary foreign workers due to COVID-19, and limit the spread of the disease on agricultural operations.
    • Recipients will be primary producers. In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must confirm in writing that all applicable measures of the Quarantine Act are being adhered to, including but not limited to the mandatory 14-day isolation period for TFW.
    • Eligible activities can be retroactive to March 15, 2020 and must be completed by February 26, 2021.
    • The EOFSF has an end date of March 31, 2021, which means all disbursements must be made by the federal government by that date.
    • The application process is open, with some variation in opening dates between provinces and territories.

Public health guidance and
personal protective equipment (PPE) resources

  • Protecting Our People program

    BC Food and Beverage (BCFB) created the Protecting Our People program to help small-to-medium-sized enterprises in the food supply chain have better access to affordable PPE at a relatively competitive price, similar to what larger companies are able to obtain through bulk purchases. The program is offered nationally to companies from the entire food supply chain, including agriculture, fish harvesters, the food processing industry (including seafood processors), and independent retail grocers.

  • Essential Services Contingency Reserve (ESCR)
    • On July 16, the Prime Minister announced a federal investment of more than $19 billion to help provinces and territories safely restart their economies. News Release.
    • Part of this investment is being used to establish the Essential Services Contingency Reserve (ESCR), which will help essential service organizations bridge urgent, short-term gaps in personal protective equipment (PPE) when other sources of supply are unavailable and to avoid any significant disruptions in services to Canadians. Eligible organizations will be able to apply online for a range of equipment available for purchase at cost. Full details on the reserve, including the application process and eligibility criteria, are available on the Essential Services Contingency Reserve web page.

    Last updated: 2020-07-30

  • Workplace guidance for the sector

    Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has compiled federal public health guidance for sector employers and employees during COVID-19. The guidance is updated regularly in close consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

    Last updated: 2020-06-15

  • PPE federal supply hub

    The Government of Canada has launched the federal supply hub to provide information for organizations buying and selling personal protective equipment (PPE). The hub provides resources and consumer guidance for PPE and is updated regularly.

  • COVID-19 control plan checklist

    This COVID-19 control plan checklist has been developed as a resource to help farm businesses put in place a plan for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. While targeted to businesses with temporary foreign workers, its criteria and considerations in a simple checklist format are useful for all agricultural businesses.

Trade and transportation

  • Transportation across provincial and territorial boundaries

    Truck drivers supporting the agricultural and agri-food sector are considered essential workers as outlined in the Guidance on essential services and functions in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. To make sure that these drivers can cross borders, the Government of Canada is providing employers a template letter to confirm the status of their drivers as essential workers. Employers can fill out the Employment confirmation – essential transportation worker form, print it and give it to their drivers to carry while transporting these goods.

  • Canada-US border – Open for cargo

    The United States and Canada recognize it is critical we preserve supply chains between both countries. These supply chains ensure that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border. Supply chains, including trucking, will not be restricted. Americans and Canadians who also cross the land border every day to do essential work or for other urgent or essential reasons, will not be impacted.

    Truck drivers, plane crews and others who are transporting goods are essential to our supply chains. As long as they are not showing symptoms, these workers are exempted from travel bans.

    For all issues at the border, including information on border crossings, please contact the Canada Border Services Agency 24/7 border information service line at 1-800-461-9999.

  • International agricultural trade

    The Government of Canada is closely monitoring the economic and agricultural trade impacts of COVID-19, as countries continue to implement various measures to contain the spread of the disease. At this time, COVID-19 is disrupting shipping logistics around the world and presenting some challenges involving the movement of food. Many of Canada's trade partners have implemented travel restrictions and additional safety measures at ports, which is causing delays throughout the international supply chain.

    Despite these challenges, most of Canada's trade partners consider the food supply chain as critical during this time, and Canada remains in a strong position to supply our international customers with safe, high-quality agricultural products.

    For more information on how the government is supporting Canadian exporters and the free flow of goods and services across our international borders, please visit the Trade Commissioner Services website.

Food supply

  • Essential services and functions

    Services and functions that are essential to the continuity of operations and incident response in the context of COVID-19, are listed at Guidance on essential services and functions in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. This list, developed by the Department of Public Safety, covers a variety of critical infrastructure in Canada, but most importantly identifies food as essential, and provides a non-exhaustive list of essential functions for the food supply chain.

    CFIA has posted updated information on temporary flexibility for non-food safety labelling and packaging requirements for pre-packaged meat products during COVID-19. Details can be found on CFIA's information for industry webpage.

  • Support for people experiencing food insecurity

    As international commerce, trade and supply lines will continue to operate, Canada has plenty of food which continues to reach grocery stores on a regular basis.

    The Government of Canada is working with established national and regional networks to help improve access to food for people experiencing food insecurity. Up to $100 million in funding is going to food banks and other local food organizations.

    Details about this initiative are at Supporting people experiencing food insecurity in Canada because of COVID-19.

  • Sanitization and quarantine protocols

    For information on sanitization practices, please consult Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): CFIA information for industry. For information on quarantine and isolation best practices, please visit canada.ca/coronavirus.

  • COVID-19 and food

    There is no evidence that food is a transmission route for the virus.

    At this time, there have been no reported cases of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.

    The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has strong measures in place to ensure the safety of Canada's food supply. If the CFIA becomes aware of a potential food safety risk, appropriate actions will be taken to protect Canada's food supply and to inform the public and industry.

    All Canadians should continue to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as:

    • washing hands
    • regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
    • cooking meat thoroughly
    • avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods
  • Support for non-profit organizations

    A Food Rescue Canadian Alliance Task Force has been launched for food suppliers across the supply chain and not-for-profit organizations to work together to ensure food gets to Canadians and communities at-risk of food insecurity. Food Rescue and Food Mesh support the redistribution of surplus food to those who need it.

    For funding support, not-for-profit organizations are asked to contact the five organizations that received funding directly.

Agricultural research

  • Scientific research at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

    To protect the health and safety of our employees and Canadians, AAFC has scaled back its research activities.

    We can assure Canadians that the department will continue to work on developing:

    • new crop varieties;
    • innovations; and
    • ongoing contributions to agricultural research through knowledge and technology transfer.

    The department is monitoring the situation closely and adapting as the situation evolves.

    At the onset of the pandemic, AAFC staff focused on caring for livestock and insect colonies; maintaining genetic material, specialized laboratory equipment and biocontainment facilities. As the situation evolved, the Department resumed providing time-sensitive support to the agricultural sector, such as distributing breeder seed to seed producers and taking care AAFC land.

    Most recently, a number of field-dependent research activities resumed with the onset of the 2020 planting season and easing of some provincial-level restrictions. This included, but is not limited to, pre-registration variety trials, advanced yield trials, and variety development activities, integrated pest management and agri-environmental studies.

    During this time, many of our research teams are adapting to working at home and are continuing other activities to advance research in support of the Canadian agricultural sector.

    AAFC is monitoring the situation closely and is committed to continue working with its partners and stakeholders to explore how and when we can initiate further science activities. The department will continue to adapt as the situation evolves.

Additional resources for producers and businesses

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