Canada investing over $6 million to help improve safety of agri-food workers in southwestern Ontario

From: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian food producers and processors have stepped up to deliver quality food for Canadians and people around the world. From the outset, the Government of Canada has helped food processors invest in safety measures and maintain their capacity to keep up with demand.

Today, on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Parliamentary Secretary Neil Ellis and the Member of Parliament for Windsor-Tecumseh, Irek Kusmierczyk, highlighted support of up to $6.1 million through the Emergency Processing Fund (EPF) for 34 food processing companies in southwestern Ontario. EPF support is helping these businesses, including a large number of greenhouse growers, keep employees safe and the food supply chain running strong.

Recipients are using this funding to make adjustments to enable social distancing, purchase reuseable personal protective equipment (PPE), implement biosecurity measures, install handwashing stations and protective barriers and develop employee training.

Parliamentary Secretary Ellis and MP Kusmierczyk highlighted this support at a virtual event with representatives from two EPF recipients:

  • Lakeside Produce Inc., a family-owned produce company and greenhouse grower in Leamington, which is receiving up to $1,172,632; and,
  • Under Sun Acres Inc., a greenhouse operation that produces sweet bell peppers in Staples, which is receiving up to $149,034.

The Government of Canada will continue working with food processors to protect the health and well-being of workers in food processing plants across Canada and strengthen our food supply chain.

Quotes

“Known as one of Canada’s richest farm belts, southwestern Ontario is an agricultural powerhouse. Despite the many challenges caused by the pandemic, local food producers and processors have shown true resilience. These investments are supporting their efforts to protect the health and well-being of workers so they can continue supplying good food for Canadians and people around the world.”

– Neil Ellis, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“The agriculture and agri-food sector is crucially important to southwestern Ontario’s economy and a source of pride and employment for rural communities across the region. Through the projects announced today, many local businesses are adapting operations to help protect workers and maintain their ability to produce good food close to home.”

– Irek Kusmierczyk, Member of Parliament for Windsor-Tecumseh

“Lakeside greatly appreciates the support which was extended to us. This is indeed a true justification of ‘We are in this together’.”

– Sudeshna Nambiar, Chief Operating Officer, Lakeside Produce Inc.

“Under Sun Acres’ Biosecurity Room provides a wall of security for our facility against viruses and disease. The Emergency Processing Fund allowed this project to come to fruition and we are very thankful for the support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.”

– Lucas Semple, General Manager, Under Sun Acres Inc.

“Providing a safe and healthy work environment for agri-food workers has always been important to the greenhouse sector and food processors across the province. The Emergency Processing Fund has provided funding for greenhouse operations and food processing facilities to implement measures to address the added challenges of COVID-19 and ensure Ontario products are available for consumers.”

– Chris Hiemstra, Chair, Agricultural Adaptation Council

Quick facts

  • To date, the Emergency Processing Fund has provided up to $32.5 million for a total of 188 projects in Ontario. The $6.1 million highlighted today includes previously announced support of $116,578 for Elliott Grain Ltd.

  • Announced in May 2020, the $77.5-million Emergency Processing Fund is helping food processors implement measures to protect the health and safety of workers and their families in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with an emphasis on supporting meat processing facilities in Canada. The Fund also supports facility upgrades to help strengthen Canada’s food supply. A further $10 million is expected to be allocated from internal funds, which would bring the total to $87.5 million.

  • The Agricultural Adaptation Council, an industry-led organization that delivers funding programs that stimulate growth and opportunity for Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food industry, supported the delivery of the Emergency Processing Fund across the province for applicants with funding requests under $100,000.

  • There are approximately 2,000 food processing companies in Ontario, supporting 85,000 jobs and driving more than $40 billion in sales and over $11 billion in exports annually.

  • Today’s announcement builds on other measures introduced to keep Canada’s agri-workforce strong, including:

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