The federal government will allow migrant farm workers an exemption to enter Canada.
“Congratulations everyone, we did it,” Norfolk County blueberry farmer Dusty Zamecnik posted to Twitter on Friday night. “SAWP program continues, thank you all for your support,”
Zamecnik was referring to the Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program that sees thousands of foreign workers come to Canada each year to work in the farming industry.
Zamecnik, chair of Norfolk’s agricultural advisory board, was among those who sounded the alarm when the federal government announced early last week that the border would be closed to non-residents as part of the COVID-19 containment strategy.
Farm leaders and politicians began immediately to lobby the government to allow farm workers to enter the country. An estimated 50,000 migrant workers come to Canada each year to work in the agriculture industry.
In a news release on Friday, the federal government said it was granting some exemptions to the border restrictions, including to workers in agriculture and agri-food industries.
Those coming to Canada will face health protocols and must undergo a 14-day self-isolation period.
“The arrival of farm workers and fish/seafood workers is essential to ensure that planting and harvesting activities can take place,” the release said. “There will always be jobs available for Canadians who wish to work on farms and at food processing plants.”