Ontario wants to see agriculture workers vaccinated on arrival in Canada

The Ontario government wants to see migrant workers coming to the province to work in the agriculture sector vaccinated on arrival.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe says province may offer vaccines if Ottawa does not

In Ontario, 1,780 temporary foreign workers tested positive for COVID-19 last year. (File Photo)

The Ontario government wants to see vaccinations immediately offered to migrant workers coming to the province to work in the agriculture sector, according to Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe said the province may step in to complete these vaccinations on arrival for those who want them — if the federal government does not.

"We're working with the federal government on this. Hopefully they will be OK to do it, but I think if they don't do it, we will probably do it because it's important," she said at a briefing on Thursday afternoon.

She added there were a lot of considerations involved, including the logistics, language issues and making sure there is informed consent from those receiving shots.

According to the provincial government, more than 1,780 workers acquired COVID-19 while in the province last year,  and three workers died after contracting the virus.

Chatham-Kent's medical officer of health, who reacted to new federal measures around transportation and quarantine for the workers last week, expressed frustration that those new rules did not include a plan to vaccinate the workers.

"I am aghast that there is no plan to vaccinate these workers as soon as they arrive in Canada, if they have not been vaccinated already," Dr. David Colby said at a Chatham-Kent Board of Health meeting on March 18.

The workers are expected to be vaccinated in Phase 2 of the province's vaccine rollout, which is slated to begin some time in April.

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