Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program Accepting Applications for On-Farm Changes Made in March

Enhaced Worker Protection ProgramOn May 14, 2020 the ministry announced the launch of the Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program for ProducersHowever, many in the greenhouse sector had already made pro-active improvements to workplace safety in light of Covid-19.

If you fall into that category, the program is now accepting applications for changes made as far back as March 15 2020.   Applications are being accepted until funding runs out.

The program has also been simplified to provide faster assistance by eliminating pre-approval. Growers can now submit eligible expenses up to the farm maximum ($7500).  This now includes accommodation and/or transport costs related to outbreak prevention. More program details can be found below and on the OMAFRA website.

4 workers on a potting line in a greenhouse

Workers on a potting line, one of the higher density areas in the greenhouse

Program Basics:

Eligible applications for cost-share funding related to worker protection will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.  This means it may be an advantage to submit an application as early as possible.

There are two cost-share project categories under the program: Occupational Health and Safety Measures and Workforce Access and Accommodation. Both categories offer 70% cost-share up to $7,500.  Projects must have started on or after March 15, 2020 to be eligible. Applicants may only submit one application per eligible business/farm property at a time. A maximum of one project per eligible business/farm property will be funded, no matter which category it falls under. 

The target audience for this funding is farm businesses that involve intensive use of labour.  Intensive use of labour is defined as a farm business where employees may operate within close proximity of one another, there are usually 10 or more workers, or where the operator is responsible for accommodating workers on- or off-site.

1. Occupational Health and Safety Measures

This category is meant to help with some of the proactive measures needed to address new and immediate worker health and safety issues directly related to COVID-19. Farm Businesses can receive funding support to help implement new worker health and safety measures identified under the Occupational Health and Safety Act Emergency Orders as well as public health directives and guidance issued by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer and the Ministry of Health.

Eligible projects under this category could include:

Workers on a packing line in a greenhouse.

Workers on a packing line in a greenhouse creating mixed tropical planters.

  • Adding plexiglass barriers to areas where worker density is high such as packing and potting lines or grading stations.
  • Modifications to allow for physical distancing measures on the farm including in lunchrooms and adding additional hand-washing stations.
  • Purchasing PPE for use on the farm including masks, gloves, coveralls etc.
  • Purchasing health screening devices such as thermometers and hiring services to perform health checks.
  • Cleaning and disinfection supplies for use on farm or costs to cover a professional cleaning by a third party.

2. Workforce Access and Accommodation

This category is meant to help address BOTH illness prevention AND current outbreaks of COVID-19 (based on having one or more person at the operation test positive for COVID-19).

Eligible projects under this category could include:

Man with face mask is screened with a temperature gun.

PPE and medical screening devices are also eligible activities under the program.

  • Short-term accommodations (e.g., hotel, dorm rentals) to enable physical distancing best practices and allow workers to attend workplaces (limited to $80.00 per day per employee).
  • Work-site mobility and transportation to enable employees to access the work site while practicing social distancing best practices. This could include renting extra farm vehicles, or using transportation services to move workers around (to a limit of $60.00 per day per employee). Mileage claims for personal vehicles driven in Ontario for work purposes are limited to 40 cents/km.
  • Any of the activities under the Occupational Health and Safety Measures category, given that at least one activity falls under the Workforce Access and Accommodation due to an on-farm COVID-19 outbreak.

For more details and examples around eligibility and eligible costs, please see the program guide on the OMAFRA webpage. If you have questions about the program, please call the Ag Info Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300.

If you have already submitted an application under the Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program for Producers and you would like to discuss how this change affects your submission, you can expect to hear from us about that soon. If you prefer to speak to someone immediately, please contact us at: 1-877-424-1300.

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