The following resolutions were presented and passed by member organizations of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association (OFVGA) at the 2022 Annual General Meeting:
2022 – 01 Funding Support for the Pest Management Centre (PMC)
Whereas the Pest Management Centre has two areas of service for growers:
- Minor Use Pesticides which support Canadian growers of minor crops including edible horticultural crops by generating data to register new and effective crop protection tools and technologies
- Pesticide Risk Reduction which focuses on developing and implementing reduced risk solutions for crop protection issues that have been identified by growers; and
Whereas horticultural growers rely heavily on the coordination and cooperation of the PMC to ensure they have access to new crop protection technologies, which often provide reduced risk to people and the environment; and
Whereas the PMC has not had a budgetary increase in over ten years resulting in declining capacity of these programs.
Therefore, be it resolved that OFVGA work with Canadian Horticultural Council and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to immediately implement an increase in the budget to ensure continued success and growth of the horticultural sector.
2022 – 02 Allowing for Better and Safer Worker Housing Options in Ontario
Whereas through the COVID-19 pandemic, communal housing such as camps for worker housing have been identified as high-risk environments and the use of houses, apartments, and other styles of accommodation can provide safer and more comfortable housing for employees; and
Whereas under the Ontario Building Code a Camp for housing of workers is defined as: a camp in which buildings or other structures or premises are used to accommodate five or more employees; and
Whereas the current definition has been interpreted to not allow five or more employees from living in other styles of accommodation such as apartments, houses, boarding/lodging/rooming houses, etc.; and
Whereas “five or more” is an arbitrary number and occupancy for farm worker housing is determined through guidelines from the public health units; and
Whereas the pandemic and the physical distancing and other public health policies that accompanied it have increased the demand on employers to provide adequate housing space for temporary foreign workers; and
Whereas farm employers need more flexibility at the municipal level to meet this growing need in a safe and cost-effective manner.
Therefore, be it resolved the OFVGA lobby to ensure current applicable provincial regulations reflect the current needs for housing temporary foreign workers, including amending the Ontario Building Code to clearly allow for five or more employees to live in accommodations other than a camp for housing of workers.
2022 – 03 Consistent Health Unit Rules Across Ontario
Whereas there are currently 34 Health Units across Ontario, and each Health Unit has sole discretion of worker housing rules in their health unit; and
Whereas inconsistent rules across the 34 health units in Ontario resulted in confusion, an unlevel playing field, and negatively impacted efforts to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, be it resolved the OFVGA lobby for rules pertaining to farm worker housing and pandemic response to be consistent provincially.
2022 – 05 Quarantine Funding Support
Whereas the worldwide pandemic has disrupted the distribution of food; and
Whereas production of fruit and vegetables has been deemed an essential service, and temporary foreign workers have been deemed essential workers by the Canadian government; and
Whereas employers of temporary foreign workers are required by the Canadian government to provide quarantine housing and food for the newly arrived workers to help contain the spread of the Covid -19 virus in Canada; and
Whereas workers must be paid by their employers while not working during the quarantine period; and
Whereas all Canadians derive benefit from having temporary foreign workers isolated upon arrival in Canada.
Therefore, be it resolved that the OFVGA and CHC lobby for funding support for the mandated quarantine period for workers to be reinstated in the 2022 growing and harvest season.
2022 – 04 Environmental Compliance Approvals (ECA) for Large Sub-Surface Septic Works
Whereas the need for an ECA is required whenever septic works on a property are greater than 10,000 litres/day; and
Whereas this requirement is the same for both a 1 acre property and a 100 acre property; and
Whereas on-farm septic systems are generally low-risk due to the large property size and low population density on agriculture lands; and
Whereas there are continued pressures to build additional on-farm housing for the production of labour-intensive crops; and
Whereas obtaining an ECA is time consuming and expensive.
Therefore, be it resolved the OFVGA lobby to have the requirement for an ECA on low-risk agricultural lands determined by the size of the parcel of land.
2022 – 07 Improved collaboration between CFIA and industry
Whereas the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is an agency of the Government of Canada with a mission is to be dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which enhances the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy; and
Whereas all of Canadian agriculture, including the fruit and vegetable sector, benefits from a strong regulatory system that ensures safe food for domestic and export markets and production that is protected from foreign pathogens; and
Whereas CFIA’s value statements include recognition that to develop effective policies and strategies, the agency values the perspectives of the stakeholders who are affected by its decisions; and
Whereas the sector respects that the CFIA must maintain regulatory independence from all external stakeholders, this must be done while respecting proper governance and accountability in collaboration with the sector; and
Whereas the Canadian fruit and vegetable sector is experiencing a number of systemic challenges where the CFIA has failed to thoroughly consult with industry prior to making regulatory changes, to acknowledge and mitigate unintended consequences of these changes, and/or to demonstrate flexibility to work collaboratively with industry to address concerns resulting from a lack of sector-specific knowledge or consideration; and
Whereas actions by the CFIA directly influence the viability of Canadian farms on issues including meeting stringent on farm regulatory requirements and the import and export of food products, meaning they need to be accountable and governed with this in mind, and
Whereas the Government of Canada has a mandate to be “clear, agile, and responsive” when implementing “risk-based, efficient, predictable regulatory programs.”
Therefore be it resolved that CHC work with CPMA and CFA and other interested industry stakeholders to establish a joint industry-government-CFIA task force that includes Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and relevant trade federal trade and health representatives, with a mandate to actively draw upon the expertise of industry to better achieve CFIA’s mandate while avoiding unintended consequences of its regulations and policies, and supporting the government’s goal to have clear, agile and responsive regulatory programs; and
Be it further resolved that this industry-government task force remain in place in the long term to serve as a mechanism for maintaining a high level of accountability and governance at CFIA and to quickly address emerging challenges within CFIA’s mandate on an ongoing basis.
2022-08 Governance Committee
Whereas the OFVGA has recently made minor updates to its bylaws to reflect changes in position titles and official names of members, a fulsome governance review has not occurred recently; and
Whereas the structure and needs of the fruit and vegetable sector continually evolve; and
Whereas it is a good practice for organizations to review internal governance processes and bylaws regularly to ensure they reflect current organization and industry needs.
Therefore, be it resolved the OFVGA strike a governance committee and set out a process to review OFVGA’s bylaws, governance, terms and committee structure, etc. with the intention of reporting back on any proposed changes to the OFVGA membership at the next annual general meeting.