Canadian taxpayers will be footing a $50 million bill to quarantine temporary foreign workers arriving in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
On April 13 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced that the funding will go to farmers and food production employers to ensure foreign workers follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period.
“Today, the Government of Canada is announcing $50 million to help farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers, put in place the measures necessary to follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad,” claimed a government news release.
Instead of relying on Canadian labour and employing young people out of work, the federal government has prioritized temporary foreign workers in these sectors.
Canada lost over one million jobs in March as the coronavirus pandemic has forced countless employers to either lay off staff or shut their doors completely.
“With so many young people out of work — so many of whom are desperate to get work experience, pay off debt and save for the future — it defies logic that our government is paying these young workers to stay at home, while also recruiting temporary foreign workers to come fill jobs that have been deemed essential services,” wrote True North founder Candice Malcolm.
The new funding is intended to compensate employers who will pay for the two weeks temporary foreign workers are required to self-isolate and providing them with missed pay, transportation, supplies and accommodation.
“Recognizing the importance of this responsibility, the federal government will provide support of $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker, to employers or those working with them to ensure requirements are fully met,” wrote the news release.
“The funding is conditional on employers not being found in violation of the mandatory 14-day isolation protocols or any other public health order.”
While the Liberal government has banned non-essential travel to and from Canada, some exemptions have been made for temporary foreign workers and international students.
Currently all temporary foreign workers are exempt from the travel restrictions and can enter Canada by air or land with a valid work permit.
Upon arrival, workers are screened for coronavirus symptoms and then must comply with the mandatory 14-day quarantine order before being allowed to work.
A number of temporary foreign workers were found to have contracted the virus while working at a farm in West Kelowna, BC. The incident involved over a dozen employees at the Bylands Nursery and it was the first large community outbreak in the province.