MUSKOKA, ON-The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has issued an order to employers of farmworkers in the region to help reduce the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. 

Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA), Associate Medical Officer of Health with the SMDHU Dr. Colin Lee said although public health guidelines have been provided to protect migrant workers, the spread of COVID-19 in this group in our region and Ontario tells them that they continue to be vulnerable due to the nature of their working and living conditions.

“Temporary migrant and local farmworkers are essential workers and vital to our farming industry and food system, and we need to protect them and the broader community from COVID-19 transmission. The order will strengthen our resolve and efforts to prevent and control current and future outbreaks.”

The issue of the HPPA was strongly recommended to Medical Officers of Health by Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, earlier this week in response to the increasing number of cases and the ongoing challenge of managing outbreaks on farms. 

This order requires all owners and operators of farms in the region who employ workers, including temporary foreign workers, local and temporary help agency workers – to take action to protect their labour force. 

Such actions include conducting daily active screening at the start of workers shifts, ensuring all employees are working at only one facility, ensuring workers work with assigned teams that are separated from others, ensuring contact information is available to the health unit, and ensuring all individuals who are under health unit supervision have ongoing access to communication devices like phones.

With this order, all farms are required to follow all legislative requirements to protect worker health and safety. 

For more information about the implementation of HPPA, visit the health unit site here or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520.