Surrey MLAs welcome protections to help seasonal farm workers stay safe during COVID-19 pandemic

SURREY – New Democrat MLAs in Surrey are welcoming BC government supports aimed at keeping seasonal farm workers, and all agriculture workers, safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To protect farmers and farm workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Agriculture has outlined a series of requirements for all farms, including those that employ seasonal labour and Temporary Foreign Workers.

All temporary foreign workers (TFWs) arriving in British Columbia for seasonal farm work will be required to self-isolate in government-managed accommodations for 14 days prior to being transported to farms throughout B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employers are also being asked to take a number of preventative measures to keep their employees safe. These measures include:

Providing employee training in a familiar language explaining safety measures and protocols, physical distancing, hygiene, and monitoring and reporting illness
Ensuring employees maintain physical distancing of at least two metres while working or at rest on a farm, in accommodation, or transport, or use physical barriers such as plexiglass or face coverings if distancing can not be maintained.
Educating employees on measures to prevent infection and transmission in their personal and on-farm actions, including handwashing, and equipment use and disinfection.
Providing daily safety briefings, and display posters and printed reminders in conspicuous locations with information about preventing infection and transmission.

In addition to asking employers to take preventative measures to ensure workplace safety, AgSafe BC has developed templates to assist agricultural employers in building their Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Programs in order to keep workers safe during COVID-19.

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“Here in Surrey, and across the province, seasonal workers and temporary foreign workers are an important part of our communities,” said Bruce Ralston, MLA for Surrey-Whalley. “By following the advice of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and by helping employers do the same, we are working to help people in B.C. stay safe and healthy on the job.”