Windsor

Greenhouse vegetable growers, Essex County officials working together to create agri-food COVID-19 response

The not-for-profit group that represents greenhouse vegetable growers across Ontario announced on Friday a partnership with Essex County leaders intended to create a plan that would protect the region's agri-food workers from COVID-19. 

The plan will be designed to maintain the health and safety of agri-food workers across the region

The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Grower's media release came one day after federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu declared COVID-19's effects on the agricultural sector a crisis. (CBC)

The not-for-profit group that represents greenhouse vegetable growers across Ontario announced on Friday a partnership with Essex County leaders intended to create a plan that would protect the region's agri-food workers from COVID-19. 

According to an Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) media release, the plan will be designed to maintain and enhance existing protections, promote access to increased testing, as well as identify risks on an ongoing basis, among other points.

"Now more than ever it is critical our leaders work together so we, as a region, can address this complicated issue," said Gary McNamara, Tecumseh mayor and warden of Essex County, in the same Friday media release. "As we roll out wide-scale testing, we need to be ready to respond with isolation facilities and financial, medical and mental health supports for all agri-food employees."

"This only happens if we work together."

The OGVG's announcement comes one day after federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu used a private meeting with Windsor-Essex to describe COVID-19 effects on the agricultural sector a crisis. 

On Friday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) announced that 17 of the region's 19 new COVID-19 cases were in workers in the agri-farm sector. 

More than 360 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among workers in the agri-farm workers to date. Almost 200 of those cases have been resolved. 

This only happens if we work together- Gary McNamara, Tecumseh Mayor and Warden of Essex County

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens has been a proponent of mandatory testing among Essex County agriculture workers, even calling for "stronger intervention" from the province when it comes to testing migrant workers. 

Despite calls for mandatory testing, earlier this week Ontario Premier Doug Ford has clarified in public statements that no one can be forced to get tested for COVID-19 without consent. 

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, WECHU's medical officer of health, has said that mandatory COVID-19 testing has "never occurred in Canada."

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