Temporary foreign workers from Mexico plant strawberries on a farm in Mirabel, Que., Wednesday, May 6, 2020. The Mexican government says it will resume sending farm workers to Canada after securing a promise of better working conditions to curb outbreaks of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Mexico will resume sending workers to Canada after deal on better COVID-19 protections

At least two Mexican men have died and hundreds more have fallen ill with COVID-19

The Mexican government says it will resume sending farm workers to Canada after securing promises for more inspections and oversight to curb outbreaks of COVID-19.

At least two Mexican men have died and hundreds more have fallen ill with COVID-19 in recent weeks on farms across the country.

The situation led Mexico to temporarily stop allowing workers to leave for Canada, sending shock waves through the agricultural sector, which is highly dependent on foreign labour.

But the Mexican government says it has now struck a deal with the federal Liberal government that will lead to improvements in the temporary foreign worker program.

In a press release late Sunday, Mexico says Canada has committed to increased inspections, as well as more support for Mexican officials and workers to identify and report unsafe working conditions.

A working group will also be set up with Mexican and Canadian government officials to deal with the issue.

In a letter to Mexico’s ambassador to Canada, sent Friday, federal employment minister Carla Qualtrough says Canada is committed to ensuring the safety of people crucial to Canada’s food security.

A copy of the letter was obtained by The Canadian Press.

It lays out some of the detailed options under consideration by the federal government, including assessments of farms where there have been outbreaks to see what instructions need to be improved, as well as increased inspections on farms where new clusters of COVID-19 infection emerge.

The federal government also promises to reach out to employers to make sure they are following all the rules that have been put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 on farms.

“In cases of significant non-compliance by employers of temporary foreign workers, strict sanctions will be applied,” the letter says.

A spokesperson for Qualtrough said the government had no further comment and would let the letter speak for itself.

There are no timelines attached to the Liberal government’s commitments, but the letter describes them as “short-term measures,” and promises the government is exploring other options.

In their press release, the Mexican government said they appreciate that Canada was willing to work with them to find solutions, and the deal is evidence of the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries.

READ MORE: Four temporary foreign workers on separate flights to B.C. test positive for COVID-19

READ MORE: COVID-19 shows B.C. is too dependent on foreign food production workers

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirusMexicoTemporary foreign workers

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon paddleboarders raise more than $40K for People Place

Third annual Stand Up For charity paddleboard event exceeds $25,000 goal

Square footage may be revisited for Vernon cultural centre

Greater Vernon Cultural Centre could see size shrink up to 20 per cent as cost-savings measure

Brain safety top of mind for Lake Country kids

Bylaw officers noticing a number of youth out riding bikes, scooters, skateboards without helmets

UPDATE: House fire spreads to bush off Westside

Small blaze burning near Vernon in Six Mile area

Wildfire sparked at Stuart Creek near Westside Road

An air tanker has been requested, according to BC Wildfire

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

COVID-19 outbreak at South Okanagan farm declared over

There continues to be other community exposure events in the Interior Health region

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

VIDEO: Revelstoke rallies to save snared eagle

Local climber scales tree to save the raptor

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Most Read