Fruit and vegetable growers will now be able to be covered by crop insurance for labour shortages resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program is the first of its kind in Canada and has been actively lobbied for by fruit and vegetable growers. It is being funded by both the provincial and federal governments.
The program means that growers enrolled in crop insurance for the 2020 season will have access to coverage against production losses arising from COVID-19 impacts on their workforce.
According to the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA), the program will specifically cover travel disruptions of workers that arrive under the seasonal and temporary foreign worker programs due to COVID-19, and illness or quarantine in the event of an on-farm outbreak.
“This announcement is an important first step towards giving growers assurances that this government will have their backs during the pandemic,” said Bill George, chair of the OFVGA. “We thank Minister Bibeau for making this enhanced coverage possible, and we thank Minister Hardeman and the Ford government for their leadership, and for being the first provincial government in Canada to take this step.”
The OFVGA says the program was rolled out unusually quickly.
“It was developed and rolled out at a speed and urgency that is highly unusual for new safety net measures. This was only possible by using an existing program like crop insurance with its yield data and underwriting/adjustment processes,” the organization said in a release.