June 17th, 2020

Ford should follow B.C. lead to save migrant workers lives and Ontario harvest

QUEEN’S PARK – Doug Ford must take immediate action to protect migrant workers from Mexico who are risking their lives and contracting COVID-19 in Ontario, said John Vanthof, the NDP’s Agriculture and Food critic, during question period Wednesday. That follows a decision by the government of Mexico to continue sending migrant workers to British Columbia, but not to Ontario, because they’re not being protected.

Vanthof said Ford has no excuse to continue risking the lives of migrant workers and Ontario’s food supply. He said the B.C. government did the right thing and is ensuring that all front line workers were centrally cared for and quarantined, and called on the Ford government to do the same.

“Ontario’s agriculture sector is now in the middle of one of the biggest workplace COVID outbreaks in the province. Other countries are losing confidence in Ontario, because Mexico announced yesterday that it won’t allow more workers to come to Ontario because of the dangerous conditions they face,” said Vanthof.

“And Mexico did specify Ontario, because they weren’t going to disallow workers coming to B.C., because they have faith in what B.C. is doing to protect their citizens.

“This is not only a tragedy for the workers in Ontario, but it could be a long-term disaster for the agriculture sector, because confidence is key, and when other countries are losing confidence in how we protect our workers, who happen to be their citizens, that’s a disaster.

“What is this government going to do to mitigate that, so that workers in this province who deliver our food actually feel, and are, safe?”

Vanthof said the Ford government knew what was happening to migrant workers in Ontario, yet took no action to protect them during this pandemic.

“We asked over a month ago for the government to make sure that those front-line workers have full access to PPE. We all know, in these issues—and we should have learned it from long-term care—that time is of the essence,” said Vanthof.

“The government knew this was going to happen. They were warned this was going to happen. Why didn’t this government realize where the problem was, and why didn’t this government, a month and a half ago, make sure that these migrant workers were protected?”