Farmers in Norfolk Ontario are sounding the alarm. Unless the government of Canada steps in and provides “immediate solutions” – a shortage of outdoor-grown, affordable fresh fruits and vegetables in 2021 and beyond is a realistic concern for Canadians. The letter detailing the concerns came from the Farmers of Ontario’s Garden and was posted to independent MPP Randy Hillier’s social media.
Farmers from all around the Norfolk area are gathered today at Simcoe square to hold a press conference voicing their concerns about the current crisis. Before the press conference took place, a convoy of tractors lined highway #3 to draw attention to the troubling situation.
The convoy kept coming to the surprise of many – a crowd that would have been bigger had farmers not had to be present on the farm working. This only highlights the magnitude of the problem facing Norfolk farmers and by default, Canadians.
Laying out the problem
The letter reads “our hands have been tied by our local Haldimand-Norfolk Board of Health section 22 order as it pertains to the 3 man per bunkhouse quarantine regulations and the new federal government switch testing procedures. These two requirements together have made the worker quarantine unmanageable from both the growers and the Haldimand -Norfolk Units standpoint. The recently imposed Letter of Instruction pursuant to regulations in force by Haldimand-Norfolk Board of Health under the Reopening Ontario Act were sent to area producers in an email on Sunday evening, March 14, 2021, and effective 12:01 as of midnight March 15, 2021.”
The farmers argue that not only was the change made on March 14th, 2021 only to be in effect a day later – but that the general logic of the letter and its instructions don’t make sense. The letter says that the safe travel instructions for Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) for temporary foreign workers (tfw) from the airport state that “employers of temporary foreign workers were on their own as far as getting the workers to their places of quarantine, limiting the number of workers who may travel together to quarantine cohorts.”
This is a big problem with a major flaw in it – it doesn’t make logical sense as the farmers point out in the letter. “No regard is being given to the fact that the workers previously travelled from their home countries in a plane together. In comparison, again, this is different from every other health jurisdiction in Ontario and, in fact, Canada.”
If you think about it for a moment – doesn’t a plane recycle the air? Wouldn’t this mean that TFW’s that flew together on a plane would have already been breathing the same air, thereby being exposed to potential infection anyways?
The letter continues:
“The above order and letter of instruction are all exclusive to the Haldimand-Norfolk Board of Health region and have made on-farm quarantine of temporary foreign workers an extremely difficult and unrealistic expectation for the majority of farmers that employ TFW’s.”
The letter concludes with a harrowing statement:
“Unless immediate solutions are developed and taken in the coming days and weeks, a shortage of outdoor-grown, affordable and safe and fresh fruits and vegetables in 2021 and beyond is a realistic concern for Canadians.”
This is a serious problem that Canadians cannot afford to allow to be brushed to the side – our food security could be at risk after all. We can’t expect farmers to shoulder the cost of any increased public health measures. This is a problem that if not addressed immediately, will only further compound and increase in size – what will Trudeau’s response be? I am hopeful for the best, but I am also realistic and understand that veterans were asking for more than Trudeau could give – will this be a different version of the same story?
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