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Federal Announcement: Prime Minister Trudeau has announced new measures to address COVID-19

FOOD INDUSTRY CV19 NEWS UPDATE

Below is the latest update from Food and Beverage Canada, with whom BCFB is collaborating on federal advocacy.

Prime Minister Trudeau has announced new measures to address COVID-19

  1. Canada will be closing the border to non-Canadians – Only Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be allowed in.  For now, there will be exemptions for air crew, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens and US Citizens only.  This WILL put a de facto ban on Temporary Foreign Workers coming into Canada – further details are below!
  2. Airlines will ban any travellers, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents, who are symptomatic on planes to Canada.
  3. Starting Wednesday, March 18 only 4 airports (Pearson, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary) will accept international flights. 

The Prime Minister was clear that these restrictions will NOT apply to trade in goods.

The Prime Minister is encouraging, but not mandating, all Canadians to stay home and to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country.  He has encouraged any Canadians abroad to come home asap and anyone returning from other countries to self-isolate for 14 days.

AAFC

AAFC and Minister Bibeau held a conference call today with agri-food industry associations and producer groups.  A number of recommendations were raised by processing groups including:

  • Food system workers need to be designated as essential so they are able to work in the face of any future quarantines
  • The Canada US border must remain open – essential for both imports and exports
  • Cross-border (Canada US) trucking must not be impacted.  Other logistics must be monitored (rail and ports)
  • The government must continue to message to consumers that the food supply is strong and that runs on grocery stores are unnecessary
  • If there continue to be heightened demand it will place liquidity pressures on companies
  • CFIA inspection services are essential and plans must be put in place to ensure these can continue if illness spreads
  • The impact on TFWP is a source of concern for many sectors (see more below)

Deeming Food Workers Essential

Earlier today, FBC-ABC wrote to the Prime Minister’s office encouraging that they look at a plan to ensure the food supply remains operating as measures continue to escalate – including the potential for mandatory quarantines.  Our provincial colleagues are doing the same with their provincial governments.

Foreign Workers – If you use the TFWP Please review this

The Prime Minister’s announcement today WILL result in a ban on TFW coming into Canada.  This was confirmed for us at 5:00 p.m. today.  This is a devastating situation.

There is no indication of how long this ban will be in place.  It will impact all streams of the TFWP including seasonal agriculture workers, the agriculture stream and the low wage stream used by food processors.

The federal government has set up a TFWP Emergency Response Committee that met this afternoon. Agriculture and processor groups expressed the devastating impact of this decision. We are working with other food associations to develop an assessment of the impact and an alternate plan to present to the Prime Minister.  For those of you impacted, please contact Kathleen Sullivan at ksullivan@fbc-abc.com (613.402.3495)  to help them start evaluating the full impact of this on companies and the Canadian supply chain.