Strict safety measures ordered to protect migrant workers in Waterloo region

Employers of migrant workers in Waterloo region who don’t properly protect their workers’ health risk thousands of dollars in fines, according to an order served by the region’s acting medical officer of health to the employers last week.

Employers must allow for physical distancing, isolation to prevent spread of COVID-19

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's acting medical officer of health, has issued a section 22 order that requires employers to protect the health of migrant workers through 18 actions. (File Photo)

Employers of migrant workers in Waterloo region who don't properly protect their workers' health risk thousands of dollars in fines, according to an order served by the region's acting medical officer of health last week.

The order was issued to 15 farms in the region that are known to employ temporary foreign workers, although Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang noted there may be others. The order also applies to any farms that aren't currently known to public health.

Wang noted the order is a proactive measure, and doesn't mean that farms weren't already following public health guidelines. 

Included are 18 actions that employers must take to protect workers' health. Some examples include:

  • Ensuring that all migrant workers isolate for at least 14 days upon arriving to Canada.
  • Assigning workers to work in small groups that are separate from others.
  • Sanitizing all surfaces in worker accommodations on a regular basis.
  • Immediately providing private accommodations to any workers who develop symptoms of COVID-19.

The order comes at the recommendation of Ontario's chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams, in an effort to prevent and reduce the spread of transmission on farms.     

Three workers have died in Ontario following outbreaks of COVID-19. There have been outbreaks in St. Catharines and in Norfolk County, but the majority have been in the Windsor area

So far, no cases of COVID-19 have been detected among temporary foreign workers in Waterloo region, according to regional public health.

Anyone who does not comply with the order could face legal action. They could also face a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $25,000 for a corporation for "every day on which the offence occurs or continues."

Further information about the order is available on the Region of Waterloo website.


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