I read with interest the very long March 20 article (“Border closure ‘devastating’ for Niagara farmers, Wiens says”), regarding the initial restrictions that would have kept offshore farm workers from entering Canada.
Thankfully the federal government has since announced the workers will be allowed in but didn’t initially announce when the procedure would be finalized.
I would like to make the following points:
1. Regarding their 14-day isolation when they do arrive, there is no better place to isolate one’s self than on the farm. Farmers can stand back 10 feet or more from their workers to let them know what their jobs will be. Then they can self-isolate as they work in the great outdoors. The farmer can arrange groceries for them. The sad part is that the workers cannot go visit with any workers already here and working. Nor can they, nor should they, interact with Jane Andres until this crisis is over or the workers have completed their 14-day self-isolation.
2. As for the toilet paper issue, it is stated right in our rules that the employer needs to supply the workers with toilet paper. It appears from this article that this is not happening. I am sure that most farmers have more than four rolls on hand or can now go and buy more at whatever price it is.
3. It is, however, very nerve-wracking to sit back and wait patiently as spring really is coming on more quickly this year than last.
Rather than using all our resources to lament the situation, farmers should be doing what we can through our local farm organizations and the federal government. We as farmers are not the only ones suffering and we should all be focusing on every businesses situation.
Thank goodness this is not an issue where the offshore farm employees are part of a union. Just think, if farms were unionized in future years, farmers might be looking at food production issues yearly as union leaders try to tell our workers when they can harvest our fruit, not when the season tells us what needs harvesting.
I trust and hope that all businesses and all employees are able to survive this and we can get back on our feet when all is back to “normal.”