This blog is provided as an information service and summary of workplace legal issues. This information is not intended as legal advice.
On May 5, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government will provide $252 million in funding to aid the agriculture and food sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of this $252 million, $77 million will be allocated to employers in the food processing sector for the purpose of aiding them in protecting the safety of their workers, in light of widespread reports of COVID-19 outbreaks at food processing plants. This funding is intended to help such employers adapt to new health protocols, implement measures to ensure proper social distancing in their workplaces, and purchase appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) for their workers. The remainder of the funding is being allocated to aiding beef and pork producers with livestock that they cannot sell, helping the dairy industry by increasing credit available through the Canadian Dairy Commission, and purchasing surplus food from farmers that would otherwise spoil so that it can be distributed to organizations fighting food insecurity, such as food banks. Takeaways The new federal aid for the food and agriculture sectors is great news for employers operating in these sectors. In particular, the $77 million being allocated to employers in the food processing sector will help such employer to take appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of their workers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As noted above, this new funding comes after widespread reports of high levels of COVID-19 outbreaks in the food processing sector. Accordingly, this suggests that the federal government is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on various sectors, and that it is prepared to offer financial assistance to sectors that are particularly affected. Therefore, all Canadian employers can take some comfort in knowing that the federal government is monitoring the situation and will likely continue to make efforts to offer aid to hard-hit sectors as necessary and appropriate.