THE VOICE OF ONTARIO'S FRUIT, VEGETABLE
AND GREENHOUSE PRODUCERS FOROVER 150 YEARS

Standing policy: Labour

The OFVGA strongly supports the “Canadians First” policy in employment practices with a supplementary workforce (under the Foreign Agricultural Seasonal Workers’ Program) from the Caribbean Islands and Mexico.

The OFVGA believes that educating producers on labour protocols and issues is paramount to the sector.  It supports the Farm Safety Association initiatives, employment standards, occupational healthy and safety standards, and the education of employers regarding labour relations between employees and employers.

The OFVGA participants actively in minimum wage consultations and human resources course development.

  • 2002-05 Apprenticeship program

    WHEREAS Niagara College, Niagara Training & Adjustment Board, Farm Labour Pool, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the Niagara Peninsula Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, in partnership have instituted an Apprenticeship Program for fruit growers; and

    WHEREAS apprenticeship is hands-on training for people who want to work in a skilled trade and who enjoy learning by doing; and

    WHEREAS participation in the program by high school graduates has been below expectations; and

    WHEREAS an apprenticeship program is a fruitful investment for our farms, our industry and our future;

    THEREFORE be it resolved that the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association request that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities reduce eligibility criteria for the apprenticeship program for fruit growers from a high school graduate to a grade 10 graduate. 

  • 2002-10 Health cards - offshore workers
  • 2003-07 Airfare Deduction Increases - Mexico

    AIRFARE DEDUCTION INCREASES – MEXICO (03-07)

    WHEREAS the Caribbean and Mexican offshore farm workers programs have experienced large increases in costs especially with airfare, and

    WHEREAS presently the Caribbean worker is sharing in a larger percentage of the transportation cost.

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA meet with representatives of Mexico to facilitate an increase in the daily deduction of up to 50% of the airfare.

  • 2005-06 Farm worker safety

    WHEREAS the safety of all farm workers is of paramount importance to the agricultural employers in Ontario and

    WHEREAS the Farm Safety Association is instrumental in the development and education of safety programs within Ontario and

    WHEREAS the content of some of the farm safety programs are not available in other languages (especially Spanish for Mexican offshore workers) and

    WHEREAS the content of some of the farm safety programs are derived from other countries,

    THEREFORE be it resolved that the OFVGA, FARMS and the Farm Safety Association work together in developing a complete farm safety program specifically for the Canadian offshore worker and employer that consists of Canadian content wherever possible and that;

    FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that this farm safety program be produced in English and Spanish so that it would be available for the majority of the workers and employers that utilize the Offshore Worker Program

  • 2006-03 Funding for farm labour accommodations

    WHEREAS there has not been any funding available for several years; and

    WHEREAS there will be new standardized regulations for all of Ontario;

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA look into the possibility of acquiring fund for new building or upgrading of existing bunkhouses

  • 2010-04LR Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program

    SEASONAL AGRICULTURAL WORKERS PROGRAM (RLR2010-04)

    WHEREAS the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) has met the needs of employers and employees involved with the program for over 50 years and

    WHEREAS the program has been held up as a standard by 30 different countries as a program that they would like to emulate and

    WHEREAS the Horticultural Industry in Canada relies on the SAWP program to supply labour to insure a supply of horticultural products to consumers and processors

    WHEREAS the HRDC is currently reviewing the Canadian Law Skills Program and looking for ways to bring this program and SAWP closer together

    THEREFORE be it resolved that the SAWP program remain undiminished and in place to continue to meet the needs of employers, employees, processors and consumers who benefit from the program and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the benefits of the SAWP be further highlighted to the federal and provincial MP’s. 

  • 2016-12 Ontario Employment Standards Act

    ONTARIO EMPLOYMENT STANDARS ACT (2016-12) 

     

    WHEREAS the Ontario government has indicated possible changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA); and

    WHEREAS the Ontario fruit and vegetable sector has unique labour issues and requirements; and

    WHEREAS changes to the ESA that do not take into account these unique requirements could have serious negative consequences on the competitiveness and economic viability of the Ontario fruit and vegetable sector; and

    WHEREAS the global nature of the fruit and vegetable market demands legislation that permits Ontario businesses to remain competitive;

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA lobby the Ontario Government to recognize the unique labour challenges faced by the fruit and vegetable sector and ensure any changes to the Employment Standards Act do not negatively impact the sector’s international competitiveness and economic viability.

  • 2017-15 Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program

    SEASONAL AGRICULTURE WORKERS PROGRAM (2017-15)

    WHEREAS the paper work concerning the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program is more and more complex; and

    WHEREAS growers are now subjected to a new, stressful experience through the complex on-farm audits from the Integrity Office of Service Canada;

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that FARMS generate a check list and information for growers to support them with Service Canada’s requirements regarding on-farm labour audits.

  • 2018-09 Processing Time For SAWP Workers

    PROCESSING TIME FOR SAWP TRANSFERS (2018-09)

    WHEREAS the processing time for transfer workers in the Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program has gotten longer; and

    WHEREAS the production factors in our industry have been hindered by this delay;

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that all government agencies shorten their processing time to transfer workers already working in Canada.

  • 2019-05 Short-term Seasonal Agricultural Worker Transfers

    2019-05                 Short-term Seasonal Agricultural Worker Transfers

    Whereas Ontario farmers are reliant on the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program for their employees; and

    Whereas there are certain instances when employees are needed on farms for shorter periods of time; and

    Whereas these instances could include, but are not limited to, supplementing a harvest or planting crew, replace AWOL workers, replace workers who have gone home under special circumstances or crop loss; and

    Whereas a short-term transfer would benefit the employees by keeping them working and ensuring constant earnings and benefit the farmers assisting them economically and by possibly reducing food waste at the farm.

    Therefore, be it resolved that OFVGA work with Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to implement an expedited process for the short-term transfer of workers from one farm to another farm.

    Submitted by Ontario Apple Growers  

  • 2019-08 CHANGE TWICE YEAR BUNKHOUSE INSPECTIONS BACK TO ONCE ANNUALLY FOR EMPLOYERS WHO DON’T HAVE WORKERS ALL YEAR

     

    2019-08                 CHANGE TWICE YEAR BUNKHOUSE INSPECTIONS BACK TO ONCE ANNUALLY FOR EMPLOYERS WHO DON’T HAVE WORKERS ALL YEAR

    Whereas bunkhouses are an important part of the success of the SAWP program; and

    Whereas employers accept that they need to provide housing that meets all of the standards laid out by the program; and

    Whereas all bunkhouses need to be inspected annually.

    Therefore, be it resolved that the new regulation of having bunkhouses inspected twice each year for employers that don’t have workers all year round be changed back to an annual inspection.

    Submitted by the East Central Ontario Fruit and Veg Growers   

  • 2020-01 Change Twice Year Bunkhouse Inspections Back to Once Annually for Employers Who Don’t have Workers All Year

    2020-01           Change Twice Year Bunkhouse Inspections Back to Once

    Annually for Employers Who Don’t have Workers All Year

     

    Whereas bunkhouses are an important part of the success of the SAWP program; and

     

    Whereas employers accept that they need to provide housing that meets all of the standards laid out by the program; and

     

    Whereas all bunkhouses need to be inspected annually.

     

    Therefore, be it resolved that the new regulation of having bunkhouses inspected every eight months for employers that don’t have workers all year round be changed back to an annual inspection.

     

    Further be it resolved that this become standing policy of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and Canadian Horticulture Council. 

  • 2021-04 SEASONAL AGRICULTURAL WORKER VACCINATION

    WHEREAS agriculture has been deemed an essential industry that requires seasonal agricultural workers in assuming Canada’s food safety and security; and

     

    WHEREAS government inspected accommodations for seasonal agricultural workers can be categorized as a congregate living arrangement; and

     

    WHEREAS congregate living accommodations have been identified to be more susceptible for occupant transmission of COVID-19; and

     

    WHEREAS accommodation enhancements are providing additional safety for workers; and

     

    WHEREAS vaccinations are shown to reduce transmission and spread of COVID-19.

     

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that seasonal agricultural workers be considered a priority as part of the distribution of the Canadian supply of COVID-19 vaccines and the plan for the voluntary vaccination is considered in securing the safe harvest as well as the health of seasonal agricultural workers in 2021 and beyond.

     

  • 2021-06 SUPPORTING FARM WORKERS FOR ONTARIO’S HORTICULTURAL FARMERS

    WHEREAS Ontario’s horticultural sector has faced an unprecedented number of labour challenges over the past year managing ongoing threats from COVID-19 pressures that jeopardize the supply and food security for all Canadians; and

     

    WHEREAS Ontario’s horticultural sector has been deemed essential during the pandemic, which relies heavily on the temporary foreign worker program to perform farming activities and temporary foreign workers have been deemed essential workers during the pandemic; and

    WHEREAS in many instances these impacts have been unexpectedly implemented by our federal government in the form of orders in council[1], with the lack of consultation leaving no time for the growers to prepare; and 

     

    WHEREAS horticultural farmers support the need to protect Canada by mitigating the spread of COVID with restrictions but need to be provided an opportunity to consult in changes that continue to endanger our livelihood; and

     

    WHEREAS temporary foreign workers are currently subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine program upon entry into Canada to help limit the spread of the virus; and

     

    WHEREAS Ontario farmers will be at a competitive disadvantage in both domestic and international markets due to labour shortages if temporary foreign workers are not be able to obtain polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72-hours of departure;  

     

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the OFVGA work with the Canadian Horticultural Council and the federal government to put in place a consultation process to ensure that any contemplated travel restrictions continue to recognize the importance of temporary foreign workers in supporting an essential food production, recognizes existing quarantine requirements,  and doesn’t further burden the sector’s timely access to this labour pool.

     

    [1] https://www.canada.ca/en/transport-canada/news/2021/01/new-pre-departure-covid-19-testing-requirements-come-into-effect-for-all-air-travellers-flying-into-canada.html