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Governments increase support for eligible farmers experiencing labour challenges during COVID-19

The governments of Canada and Ontario are providing the best support possible to help farmers by enhancing AgriInsurance coverage for the 2020 growing season to include managing challenges and labour shortages due to COVID-19.

Ontario’s agriculture industry, specifically farms growing fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, melons and peaches, are labour intensive and highly dependent on seasonal agricultural workers. During the pandemic, there has been interrupted regular flows of worker travel and has resulted in some gaps in labour availability, which may result in some crops being unharvested and financial loss for the agri-food industry.

The federal government made a commitment on May 5th to work with the provinces and territories to explore possibilities for expanding the AgriInsurance program to include labour shortages as an eligible risk for the horticulture sector. Of note, Ontario is home to 49,600 farms, growing 200 different commodities. Ontario’s agriculture industry supports 69,000 jobs and contributes $7.6 billion to the GDP.

Ontario farmers already enrolled in an eligible production insurance plan who suffer from crop losses due to labour disruptions during the 2020 growing season will have access to further insurance coverage. The added insurance coverage will include:

  • Inability to attract sufficient on-farm labour due to COVID-19; and
  • Illness or quarantine of on-farm labour and the producer due to COVID-19.

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