COVID-19 Update: March 23

Dear Members,

A new week is upon us and I come to you with more updates related to COVID-19.

On Friday evening, the Government of Canada made an official announcement regarding Temporary Foreign Workers entering the country during the border closure.

Some of the key pieces from this announcement are:

  • Exemptions to the air travel restrictions will apply to foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home.
  • Travel by these individuals will be considered essential travel for land border restrictions.
  • The exemptions include: seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers (full list can be seen in the press release)
  • A temporary modification is being made to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food processing employers, as the required 2-week recruitment period will be waived for the next 6 months.
  • An increase to the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 1 to 2 years.
  • In addition to health screening protocols before travel, all individuals entering from abroad must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.

If you would like to read the full press release, click here.

Another announcement of interest, the Government of Canada has announced a $5 billion boost to Farm Credit Canada’s lending capacity. The initial focus of this funding will be assisting the industry in addressing cash flow challenges. To read the news release from FCC, click here.

We continue to have regular calls with Minister Colwell and Kody Blois. These calls are an opportunity to advocate on behalf of our members on the following items:

  • Financial program supports for payment deferrals without interest and without penalties
  • Availability of labour for farms; including opportunities for incentive programs
  • That agriculture related workers be deemed essential service

This week we also sent letters to Minister Colwell and Minister Bibeau. Minister Colwell received letters regarding risk management plans for TFWs upon arrival to Nova Scotia, considering TFWs to be covered by MSI and financial program supports. Minister Bibeau received a letter regarding financial programs including Advanced Payment Programs and BRMS.

We will continue to update you as new information becomes available.

A note about the NSFA office:
In an effort to practice social distancing to ensure the health of Nova Scotians, the NSFA staff will be working remotely as of today and can be reached by email or by phone. The physical NSFA office will be closed for the foreseeable future. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Take care,

Victor Oulton
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture