Farmer drops legal action against Norfolk health unit over migrant worker bunkhouse order

Brett Schuyler said he and other members of the farming community want to move forward in a positive manner with health officials.

Brett Schuyler described the move as a 'show of good faith'

Brett Schuyler has dropped his attempt to appeal a court decision that restored a public health order limiting the number of self-isolating migrant workers to three. (Norm Arnold/CBC)

A Norfolk County farmer has dropped his attempt to appeal a court decision that restored a public health order limiting the number of self-isolating migrant workers to three.

Brett Schuyler said continuing to pursue the appeal "wouldn't do any good" because next year's quarantine period would likely be over before the legal process.

"As a show of good faith and with a hope that there exists a true desire to move forward in a positive manner, Schuyler Farms has withdrawn its formal request for an Appeal of the Court decision," he wrote in an email to Norfolk County officials on Friday. 

Schuyler made headlines earlier this year when he challenged the order from the county's medical officer of health.

Dr. Shanker Nesathurai issued a section 22 order in March saying the some 4,000 workers who arrive from other countries must quarantine for two weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The order also restricted workers to three per bunkhouse during the self-isolation period, regardless of floor space.

A group of Norfolk farmers, led by Schuyler, argued that number seemed arbitrary and the Health Services Appeal and Review Board ruled in their favour.

However, the order was later restored following a ruling from an Ontario court.

In the email announcing the end to his legal action, Schuyler said he and other farmers would still like to see the order reviewed and for the county to closer align with federal and provincial rules.

He also said it's his hope that the board of health will continue to work with the farming community moving forward.

"We don't need another thing that's impeding cooperation with all parties," he said during an interview Friday. "We need to keep focusing on making things better for the workers and the farms."

The county acknowledged Schuyler's move in a statement that said it has agreed to a payment arrangement to cover costs previously awarded to the farmer.


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