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Coronavirus: Labour shortages at some Ontario farms threaten crop harvest, groups say

Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says he will be addressing ‘testing migrant workers’ with public health
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Monday that he will work with public health officials to make sure all migrant workers get tested for COVID-19 to make sure they’re safe and the food supply chain is safe after over 80 migrant workers tested positive at a farm in Southwestern Ontario.

TORONTO – Groups that advocate for Ontario’s farmers say a worker shortage could threaten the harvest of some crops across the province.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, and the Canada Horticultural Council say the shortages exist on many farms across the province because of the pandemic.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Southwestern Ontario farmers seek help to fill gap left by migrant workers

The groups are urging the federal and provincial governments to provide resources to farmers to attract local workers, provide greater access to harvest equipment, and more personal protective equipment.

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They say COVID-19 has affected the flow of temporary foreign workers into the country despite the federal government deeming them essential several months ago.

READ MORE: 120 workers test positive for coronavirus in outbreak on farm near Simcoe, Ont.

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A report from Statistics Canada today says while the workers represent less than three per cent of Canada’s total workforce, they made up over a quarter of the country’s employees in crop production in 2017.

Approximately 20,000 migrant workers come to Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean.