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COVID-19 - AAFC Logistics & Border-Related Labour Questions

Over the past few weeks, AAFC have received many questions related to labour issues, in particular Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs).


Logistics & Border-Related Labour Questions

Has a review been done on the potential impacts on the 4 identified airports which are handling all international TFW flights, and whether this may pose additional delays for TFWs who are required to travel farther to worksites as a result?

  • Our government has been working to clarify guidance and logistics around Temporary Foreign Workers entry, share information and maximize the entry of TFW in Canada. The group includes representatives from AAFC, GAC, PHAC, ESDC, IRCC, TC and CBSA. The group is in close contact and is working together through issues as they arise.
  • Please refer to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program new FAQs that are posted online. Temporary Foreign Workers, like all travellers, workers will be screened prior to boarding an international flight to Canada. Workers who present with COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to travel.

Upon arrival in Canada, temporary foreign workers will be screened for COVID19 symptoms. If they are deemed to be asymptomatic (no symptoms), and meet entry requirements, they will be permitted to travel onwards, including via a connecting flight, to their housing where they must self- isolate for 14 days.

  • If they have symptoms upon arrival, depending on the severity of their condition, they may be placed in quarantine at the point of entry or be sent to the hospital. Once they have recovered, their admissibility to Canada will be assessed and, if applicable, they may be permitted to travel onwards to their final destination.
  • If you require additional information please continue to submit your questions to the AAFC Roundtable mailbox: aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca

Do the measures in place for TFWs apply to the entire horticulture sector, regardless of whether the production is considered essential or not?

  • The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has now posted new FAQs online. These FAQs provide new and updated guidance to employers regarding the payment of wages during the 14-day self isolation period, and should be used by employers and stakeholders to complement the Guidance to Employers shared last week. These apply to all temporary foreign workers.
  • If you require additional information please continue to submit your questions to the AAFC Roundtable mailbox: aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca

As there is currently great difficulty in getting a house inspection performed on housing for TFWs (cannot be performed due to CoVID-19), how can the LMIA process be completed?

  • Thank you for your question. It helped identify a commonly asked question for which the response benefited industry at large. We anticipate that it has been answered through general information provided in the last several days through mass emails and/or information posted on AAFC’s webpage providing information to industry regarding COVID-19. However, please find the relevant information related to your question below:

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html

Under the heading “Temporary Foreign Worker”:

“If an employer cannot submit a valid HIR due to COVID-19, they must try to provide a satisfactory HIR obtained within the previous 3 years. They must also provide a valid HIR to ESDC within the duration of the work permit issued by that LMIA. If an employer cannot provide a satisfactory HIR obtained in the previous 3 years, an LMIA can be issued if photos of the accommodation are provided and the employer agrees to submit an updated HIR to ESDC within the duration of the work permit issued by that LMIA.

  • When available, further information will be posted to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program website.”
  • If you require additional information please continue to submit your questions to the AAFC Roundtable mailbox: aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca

Could the accelerated/expedited arrival of TFWs be prioritized by the responsible Government Departments, as these workers are critical to the food processing industry?

  • Our Government has taken many steps to facilitate access to this important labour supply, in recognition of the vital role these workers play in supporting food security and other industries critical to the Canadian economy.
  • Federal officials from key departments continue to work together to maximize the entry of TFWs in Canada. TFWs have started to come in since the exemption on the travel ban was put in place at the end of March.
  • As of Friday April 3rd, two flights had arrived in Toronto carrying approximately 600 workers from Jamaica
  • At least, seven more charters are planned to arrive over the next few weeks, carrying more workers from Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
  • AAFC continues to work with other key federal departments to clarify guidance and logistics around the entry of TFWs. The group includes representatives from AAFC, GAC, PHAC, ESDC, IRCC, TC and CBSA.
  • To prepare for these arrivals, federal departments have been clarifying operational protocols at port of entry and identifying capacity concerns.
  • If you require additional information please continue to submit your questions to the AAFC Roundtable mailbox: aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca

Has the Canadian Government been in contact with the Government of Nicaragua, in order to secure flights for TFWs who often work in the western beekeeping industry?

  • Our Government has taken many steps to facilitate access to this important labour supply, in recognition of the vital role these workers play in supporting food security and other industries critical to the Canadian economy. In particular, AAFC has been working with other key federal departments to clarify guidance and logistics around TFW entry, share information and maximize the entry of TFW in Canada. The group includes representatives from AAFC, GAC, PHAC, ESDC, IRCC, TC and CBSA.
  • In relation to Nicaragua, Global Affairs Canada has been in contact with their Nicaragua officials to facilitate travel arrangements for temporary foreign workers. It is our understanding that charter flights are being arranged to bring Nicaragua workers to Canada.
  • Producers are encouraged to continue to work with their travel arrangers to secure travel arrangement. For other inquiries, please use the AAFC roundtable mailbox: aafc.roundtable- tableronde.aac@canada.ca so that requests can be tracked, responded to and addressed as quickly as possible.

Can you please provide some guidance as to when details concerning exemptions for TFWs will become available and possible scenarios, so we can book any remaining flight options that may still be available?

  • The Government of Canada continues to share information to ensure employers, workers and stakeholders are aware of their obligations to comply with public health requirements in the context of COVID-19.
  • A joint letter from the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, outlining theGovernment of Canada’s expectations of employers seeking to bring in temporary foreign workers to Canada was released on April 5, 2020.
  • In addition the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has now posted new FAQs online. These FAQs provide new and updated guidance to employers regarding the payment of wages during the 14-day self isolation period, and should be used by employers and stakeholders to complement the Guidance to Employers shared with you last week.
  • If you require additional information please continue to submit your questions to the AAFC Roundtable mailbox: aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca

If TFWs arrive in Montreal, and need to quarantine there, will they need to quarantine again once they arrive in Nova Scotia? Will they fly into Halifax or will it be ground travel?

  • Please refer to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program guidance and new FAQs that are posted online. Temporary Foreign Workers, like all travellers, workers will be screened prior to boarding an international flight to Canada. Workers who present with COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to travel.
  • Upon arrival in Canada, temporary foreign workers will be screened for COVID19 symptoms. If they are deemed to be asymptomatic (no symptoms), and meet entry requirements, they will be permitted to travel onwards, including via a connecting flight (e.g. Halifax), to their housing where they must self-isolate for 14 days.
  • If they have symptoms upon arrival, depending on the severity of their condition, they may be placed in quarantine at the point of entry (e.g. Montreal) or be sent to the hospital. Once they have recovered, their admissibility to Canada will be assessed and, if applicable, they may be permitted to travel onwards to their final destination.
  • If you require additional information please continue to submit your questions to the AAFC Roundtable mailbox: aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca

Can farmers who are able to maintain a “Batch isolation model” for newly-arrived TFWs be allowed to do so?

  • Please refer to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program guidance and new FAQs that are posted online. The requirement is for employers to provide housing which ensures that workers remain two meters apart applies during the mandatory self-isolation period. It is recommended that workers continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene habits beyond the two-week period, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Employer-provided housing that enables this would support public health objectives.
  • If you require additional information please continue to submit your questions to the AAFC Roundtable mailbox: aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca

Do we have confirmation on when the Mexican Ministry of Labour will resume full operations (May 4?), and that TFWs will be able to travel once full operations resume?

  • Our Government has taken many steps to facilitate your access to this important labour supply, in recognition of the vital role these workers play in supporting food security and other industries critical to the Canadian economy. In particular, AAFC continues to work with other key federal departments to clarify guidance and logistics around TFW entry, share information and maximize the entry of TFW in Canada. The group includes representatives from AAFC, GAC, PHAC, ESDC, IRCC, TC and CBSA.
  • With respect to Mexico, there are challenges stemming from delays with the Ministry of Labour that are beyond the scope of the travel arrangers. Recognizing there will be an impact on the numbers of Mexican TFWs that will be able to travel to Canada, GAC, IRCC and ESDC are actively working to resolve these issues.
  • Producers are encouraged to continue to work with their travel arrangers to secure travel arrangement. For other inquiries, please use the AAFC roundtable mailbox: aafc.roundtable- tableronde.aac@canada.ca so that requests can be tracked, responded to and addressed as quickly as possible.

When will proposed measures/protocol for quarantine be approved and how will they be communicated?

  • The Government of Canada continues to share information to ensure employers, workers and stakeholders are aware of their obligations to comply with public health requirements in the context of COVID-19.
  • A joint letter from the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, outlining the Government of Canada’s expectations of employers seeking to bring in temporary foreign workers to Canada was release on April 5, 2020.
  • In addition, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has now posted guidance and new FAQs online. The FAQs provide new and updated guidance to employers with regards to measures for quarantine. Specifically, employers are expected to provide housing which ensures that workers remain two meters apart during the mandatory self-isolation period. It is recommended that workers continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene habits beyond the two-weekperiod, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Employer-provided housing that enables this would support public health objectives.

What is the process to bring Agriculture Stream workers to Canada where there isn’t a coordinating group (such as FARMS or FERME)?

  • We recommend, as much as possible, coordinating travel with third-party administrators, such as FARMS and FERME. These organizations have been arranging charter flights from Mexico, Guatemala and Jamaica. Based on flight data received to-date some of these charter flights have seat availability that you might be able to use to bring TFWs.
  • Please continue to use the AAFC roundtable mailbox: aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca with any flight challenges or update so that requests can be tracked, responded to and addressed as quickly as possible.