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

Food trucks find space at Clutesi Haven Marina in Port Alberni

‘Food truck pod’ is a partnership between city, port authority and Tseshaht First Nation

Guest choreographer takes the ice with Mount Arrowsmith skaters

Mount Arrowsmith skating season is underway, with COVID-19 protocols in place

RCMP investigating after tires slashed in Port Alberni neighbourhood

RCMP are looking for anyone with information or video surveillance

Port Alberni writer featured at Alberni Valley Words on Fire

Vicki Drybrough’s poetry and short stories have been published in anthologies and literary journals

Tour de Rock alumni ride through Port Alberni

Event was scaled down this year in response to COVID-19

B.C.’s top doctor encourages Halloween costumes to include masks

Dr. Bonnie Henry will soon be releasing guidelines on how to safely trick-or-treat this Halloween

Federal child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Parksville pedestrian airlifted to hospital in Vancouver after nighttime collision

Police report man’s injuries were ‘significant’ but not life-threatening

Horgan frustrated as Transport Canada mandate for BC Ferry riders returns

Transport Canada reinstates rule that bans passengers from lower decks

Shoplifting suspect allegedly spits on worker at store in Nanaimo

Suspect became aggressive when confronted by loss prevention officer at Walmart, say RCMP

Most Read